Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters Win and the Next Japanese Golf Boom

The 29-year-old’s historic first for Japan arrives at a moment when shifts in the country’s culture indicate that this will be just the beginning for the golf-crazy country’s international success

Hideki Matsuyama reacts after winning the Masters.

Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

At around 8 a.m. in Tokyo, throngs of fans who stayed up all night or set alarms for before sunrise to watch a golf tournament on television got the reward they had dreamed about for decades. A Japanese player, Hideki Matsuyama, had won the Masters.?

Matsuyama’s stomach-churning afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club made for a fitful night of viewing for his Japanese fans. After watching a five-shot lead vanish in an instant, Matsuyama narrowly avoided disaster to walk away with a one-shot victory to become the first Japanese man to win one of golf’s major championships.?

It was a hallmark triumph for a golf-crazy nation that now has a bona fide international superstar with his very own green jacket. And it arrives at a moment when shifts in the sport’s culture there make it entirely possible that this will be just the beginning for Japan’s international golf success.?

“I’m glad to be able to open the floodgates hopefully,” Matsuyama said through a translator afterward, “and many more will follow me.”

The curious development Sunday at Augusta wasn’t that Matsuyama rose to the pinnacle of this sport. It’s that there was no Hideki Matsuyama before Hideki Matsuyama.?

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