Hideki Matsuyama Wins 2021 Masters, Becomes 1st Japanese Men's Major Champion

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIApril 11, 2021

Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, watches his ball out of a bunker on the second hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament on Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Hideki Matsuyama is the latest to wear the green jacket, winning the Masters with a score of 10 under par at Augusta National on Sunday.  

Matsuyama, who held a four-stroke lead entering the final round after climbing past Justin Rose on Saturday, is the first Japanese player to win a men's major championship and the first winner of the Masters to be born in Asia.

Claire Hanna @clahanna

Commentators at @TheMasters mentioned two Japanese women have won golf majors, but neglected to mention who & when. So here’s that info: Hisako Higuchi won 1977 LPGA championship Hinako Shibuno won 2019 British Open. Matsuyama trying to become 1st Japanese male. #themasters

He staved off a late comeback from Xander Schauffele, who hit four straight birdies to get within two strokes with three holes to play before logging a triple bogey on No. 16. 

The excitement from viewers in Matsuyama's home country, who watched him round the back nine before 6 a.m., was evident.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Hideki Matsuyama’s second shot on No. 9, as called by Tommy Nakajima and Wataru Ogasawara. https://t.co/C3d6n8f7Na


Analyst Nick Faldo, who spoke on the broadcast about what the victory would mean to Japan, predicted that Matsuyama would earn one of sports' ultimate honors if he pulled out the win.

Matt Barnes @Matt_NBC4

Bold prediction by Nick Faldo. If Hideki Matsuyama wins the Masters, he will light the Olympic flame. We shall see. #Tokyo2020


While his Olympic future has yet to be determined, here's a look back at how Matsuyama was able to earn his Masters victory: 


2021 Masters Sunday Leaderboard

1. Hideki Matsuyama (-10)

2. Will Zalatoris (-9)

T3. Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele (-7)

T5. Jon Rahm, Marc Leishman (-6)

7. Justin Rose (-5)

T8. Patrick Reed, Corey Conners (-4)

T10. Cameron Smith, Tony Finau (-3)

Full leaderboard via Masters.com



Matsuyama entered Sunday with a four-stroke lead over four different players: Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman, Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris were all tied for second place at seven under par after moving day.

Corey Conners (-6) and Jordan Spieth (-5), the latter of whom was following up on his win at the Valero Texas Open a week ago, pulled into Sunday with the opportunity to inch closer up the leaderboard from their sixth and seventh positions. 

The Japanese star got off to a tough start on Sunday, when his first ball landed in the trees en route to a bogey on No. 1. 

Zalatoris had the opposite sort of beginning when he walked away with a birdie on No. 1 to take hold of second place by himself and then got within one of the lead through two.

The Masters @TheMasters

Another birdie at No. 2 moves Zalatoris further into contention. #themasters https://t.co/3k19y49KQw


The PGA Tour rookie came back down to earth on the third hole with a bogey, while Matsuyama got back on track with a birdie on two to increase the distance yet again. At the same time, Schauffele birdied the second hole to join Zalatoris in a tie for second, before two straight bogeys sent him back down.  


Birdie on No. 2 for Hideki. He's back in front by 3. https://t.co/djaOyqjrFN


Zalatoris was humbled by the bogey after his opening birdies, and he logged pars on all but one hole on the rest of the front nine to head to the second half having shot two under on the round.

Matsuyama was just even par for his round through seven before he birdied eight and nine, increasing his lead to five strokes.  

CBS Sports @CBSSports

“That’s a little bit of brilliant.” Hideki Matsuyama’s approach at No. 9 was a thing of beauty. https://t.co/UA4VNmSeVg


After the opening holes of the day made it seem as though Zalatoris—or someone else—would be able to snatch the lead away, the 29-year-old Matsuyama kept it rolling through the back nine and put the lead all but out of reach.

The Masters @TheMasters

An Amen Corner birdie for leader Hideki Matsuyama #themasters https://t.co/CiyA7IQnpC


Schauffle came close after his fourth consecutive birdie lined up with a bogey from Matsuyama, but as quickly as he got within two strokes, he gave Matsuyama some breathing room by hitting into the water and then into the crowd on No. 16, where he picked up a triple bogey. 

That move dropped him back down the leaderboard, where he joined Jordan Spieth in a tie for third place. Spieth had a strong day, highlighted by making four birdies in a six-hole stretch. 


Four birdies in his last six holes. @JordanSpieth is tied for second at #theMasters https://t.co/xL0FmubJdE


He ended the day shooting two under par, good for seven under for the tournament. 

Zalatoris pulled into the clubhouse two strokes behind the lead at nine under par. 

Elsewhere, Jon Rahm had his first round that wasn't an even par. The new dad had an impressive six-under-par round on Sunday to finish the tournament in fifth place alongside Marc Leishman.