What Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters Win means to Golf

by | Apr 14, 2021

Japan loves golf, even though it is not overly cheap to get in a quick 18 holes with it regularly setting participants back 10,000 yen or $120, there is approximately 9.7 million active golf players in Japan. So although Hideki Matsuyama may be somewhat of an unknown quantity for Australian audiences, he is a rock star in his home country. Reports say that at the 2019 Accordia Narashino tournament, Matsuyama had bigger crowds than global superstar and eventual champion Tiger Woods. At golf events his media coverage for Japanese stations outweighs that for world number one Dustin Johnson or even Tiger himself. We are talking Kardashian level fame here, to the point that he had to get married in secret due to his dislike of being in the public eye.

Baseball is the most popular sport in Japan so naturally, like most young Japanese kids growing up, Hideki idolised Baseball players. But after his incredible feats this week he is hoping to change that narrative.

“Hopefully now others will be inspired for what happened here and follow in my footsteps,” he stated to The Golf Channel in a post-round interview. 

Fellow professional golfer Kevin Na of South Korea believes this is bigger than just Japan stating.

“It’s a big day for the Asian golf world, I think there’s many more to come,” he said. “This won’t be the end.”

The consensus amongst reporters and fans alike was that Matsuyama has a whirling dervish of media and hype awaiting him upon his return to his home country but the man himself was much happier to look at the effect on a younger generation

Hideki Matsuyama celebrates his Masters win (Photo credit – Eurosport)

“Up until now, we haven’t had a major champion in Japan, and maybe a lot of younger golfers thought, well, maybe that’s an impossibility. But with me doing it, hopefully, that will set an example for them that it is possible and that, if they set their mind to it, they can do it, too,” he said

The biggest factor this will all play into is the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Golf has had a historically rocky relationship with the Olympics and only got reinstated as a sport in 2016. This rocky relationship wasn’t helped when world number 1 Dustin Johnson quite dismissively stated he would not be participating. 

However, with Japan now having a Masters Champion as their countryman word is we may even see Hideki lighting the Olympic cauldron come July. Every Olympic host nation is hoping they will have a hero to hang their cumulative hopes on, to be the face of the games if you will, a figure who embodies the national spirit. Think Cathy Freeman in Sydney 2000. With Coronavirus wreaking havoc on the Tokyo 2020 games (now 2021) it is difficult to find a silver lining to the situation but Matsuyama’s win on Sunday night may provide some level of solace as Japan prepares for the biggest sporting event in the world.

With his win this past week Matsuyama did more than become Japan’s first Masters winner, Japan suddenly had its Green Jacket donning Olympics golden boy in a sport it has always had a soft spot for. 


Written by Joel Hall