Matsuyama is first Japanese to win major golf title

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Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese to win golf’s Masters Tournament on Sunday by helding off an erratic Xander Schauffele for a one-stroke victory on Sunday at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

It was Matsuyama’s first major golf title and the Green Jacket.

He is only the second Asia to win a major golf title, joining South Korea’s Y.E. Yang, who beat Tiger Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship.

“Hopefully, I’ll be a pioneer and many other Japanese will follow,” said Matsuyama, who received the Green Jacket from 2020 winner Dustin Johnson.

Matsuyama, who is now a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, won more than $2 million in prize money for his improbable triumph at Augusta.

Before the tournament, many sportsbooks listed him at 60-1 odds to win the Masters, making him one of the biggest long shots to win the event since Danny Willett in 2016.

The 29-year-old Matsuyama, who shot 65 in Saturday’s third round, closed with a 1-over 73 on the final day to finish the tournament with a 10-under 278. He built a six-stroke lead on the back nine, but watched it disappear after a series of mistakes and a late surge from Schauffele.

Holding a four-shot advantage, Matsuyama went for the green in two on the par-5 15th hole. Instead, he found the water and bogeyed the hole.

Schauffele, meanwhile, made his fourth consecutive birdie on hole No. 15 to cut Matsuyama’s lead to just two shots with three to play.

Schauffele’s next swing all but ended his comeback attempt. His tee shot on the par-3 16th bounded off the hill and trickled into the pond. His third shot from the drop area traveled into the gallery, leading to his triple-bogey 6.

It was the first triple-bogey of Schauffele’s major championship career. Before his blunders on the 16th hole, he carded birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 to make it interesting.

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