Matsuyama’s Major Triumph & Other Masters Takeaways
Well, that was quite a turn up for the books. After one of the most memorable Masters tournaments in recent memory, it was a golfer who flew under the radar pre-Augusta that would ultimately don the highly-coveted Green Jacket last Sunday evening.
Here at Hole19 HQ, we loved every moment of the first major championship of the year and were delighted to see Hideki Matsuyama close out a thoroughly deserved Masters win.
As a bit of a recap of events at Augusta National, check out our list of 2021 Masters takeaways.
There's no underestimating Hideki Matsuyama's accomplishment in becoming the first Japanese major champion in the men's game, and only the second Asian after Y.E. Yang. He was already somewhat of a superstar in his home country, but this stunning victory - coming as it does in an Olympic year - will have sent his popularity stratospheric.
On a personal level, it's the realisation of every golfer's dream to win at Augusta, and while Hideki isn't known for being one of the most emotional guys on Tour, he was overcome as he walked off the 18th green.
Besides giving him added confidence to take his game to another level, we don't think the elevation to major champion status will change Hideki too much away from the course. He's always seemed a pretty chilled, happy-go-lucky type of guy with oodles of respect for the game and plenty of modesty in his achievements.
Oh, and in case you missed it, here he is just hours after his Masters win at the airport with his Green Jacket casually draped over the back of his seat! 😂
Augusta in April is Peerless
Say what you want about last year's November trip to Augusta National - and we thought it was awesome - but The Masters simply belongs in its traditional April slot.
Vibrant colours illuminated by the Georgian sunshine are a real sight to behold. At the same time, the glass-like green conditions demand both laser-like accuracy on approach shots and nerves of steel with the putter in hand.
Don't get us wrong, the softer conditions in 2020 were no walk in the park but to see the pros truly pushed to their limits, nothing beats a springtime Masters.
Shota's Respectful Bow at 18
One of the enduring images from this year's Masters tournament was the moment on the 18th green when caddie Shota Hayafuji removed his cap and respectfully bowed to Augusta National after Hideki Matsuyama claimed his first major title.
It was a gesture made without fanfare, yet it immediately went viral as golf fans worldwide gushed with appreciation for such an emotional moment to round off the 85th Masters tournament.
Simply put, it was the ultimate sign of respect for the game.
Spieth is Back
As we mentioned before his Valero Texas Open win, three finishes of T-4 or better in his last six events point towards a game that's well on the road to recovery, and Jordan Spieth always looked like he was in good shape to challenge throughout the four days.
The Texan's performance last week (T-3) proved that he has the game and mental toughness to challenge for further major glory in the months and years ahead. In particular, he loves Augusta National, and it shows.
We back him to grab another Green Jacket before too long.
Zalatoris the Real Deal
We think it's pretty apparent by now that Will Zalatoris has an unbelievably bright future in the game. Many hardened golf fans already knew this before last week's impressive performance in his first-ever Masters; the rest watched awe-inspired as the 24-year-old proved that he belongs, on this the biggest stage of them all.
Shooting four rounds under par during your Masters debut is impressive by any measure. Cameron Smith managed it back in November but, of course, in much softer conditions.
He showed real grit and determination to stay in contention to the 72nd hole, and it seems only a matter of time before these battling qualities help young Zalatoris win his first PGA Tour title.
With Happy Gilmore rooting for you, success is surely just around the corner. 😜
Augusta 2 DeChambeau 0
Since his radical body transformation and a well-documented quest for speed and distance, Bryson DeChambeau has tackled Augusta National twice and tried to use a 'brawn-before-brains' approach to overpower the course.
We think it's pretty clear that the current U.S. Open champion will need to tailor this approach in the future, as the famed course easily triumphed on both occasions.
Tiger's Message to Hideki
As the great Tiger Woods continues his recovery from a horrific car crash back in early March, he tweeted his congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama immediately after his Masters win.
He underlined the enormity of the victory to Hideki personally, his home country and the golf world at large. For a golfer who grew up idolising Tiger, Hideki will cherish the message for many years to come.
PGA Championship is Coming
Major golf returns with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in a little over one month, and it doesn't provide golfers struggling with their game much time to blow away the cobwebs.
We're looking particularly at Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and even current world number one Dustin Johnson - all of whom failed to make any impression this past week.
What did you think about Hideki Matsuyama's win? Let us know in the comments, and you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.