Masters 2021: Top Quotes and Takeaways from Final Round of Year's 1st MajorApril 11, 2021
Hideki Matsuyama put on a clinic at Augusta National Golf Club to win his first major title at the 2021 Masters.
The first Japanese man to win a major golf tournament bolted away from the field Saturday and held on to the advantage Sunday.
Matsuyama's win occurred 10 years after he won the low amateur medal at the Masters. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he is the seventh player to win the Masters after capturing low amateur honors.
Matsuyama faced two significant challenges Sunday: one at the start from Will Zalatoris and another on the back nine out of Xander Schauffele.
Schauffele commended Matsuyama for his play in the final pairing throughout Sunday, per the Associated Press' Doug Ferguson.
"Man, he was something else. He played like a winner needs to play," Schauffele said. "Sixteen, I really would have loved to have put more pressure on him there, but basically gave him the tournament at that point."
On the front nine, Matsuyama rebounded from an opening bogey to birdie the second hole and avoided another dropped shot until the 12th hole.
When Schauffele got within two strokes after 15 holes, he sent his tee shot into the water and allowed Matsuyama to feel comfortable on Nos. 17 and 18.
Matsuyama appeared to be under control for most of the round, as Japanese commentator Ryusuke Ito told Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner.
"He was working to keep things under control," Ito said through an interpreter, "but he's over the moon. He's definitely over the moon."
Matsuyama's final round was nowhere close to as perfect as his bogey-free Saturday, but he did not let the mistakes multiply.
The 29-year-old answered bogeys at Nos. 1 and 12 with birdies. Despite dropping shots on back-to-back holes at Nos. 15 and 16, he had a big enough cushion to remain two shots ahead of Zalatoris. He eased some of the pressure by recording a pair at the 17th hole.
Matsuyama's putting ability was one of the assets that helped him avoid a Sunday letdown. ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg noted in the middle of Sunday's round that Matsuyama had zero bad putts despite a not-so-great overall mark.
When his final putt rolled in, Matsuyama embraced his caddie and let the moment sink in, as he described through an interpreter to Golf.com's Michael Bamberger.
"When the final putt went in, I really wasn't thinking of anything. But when I saw my caddie, Shota, and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag. And then it started sinking in, the joy of being a Masters champion."
While Matsuyama's performance stole the show, Zalatoris turned in a 72-hole showing to remember as well.
The second-place finisher announced his presence on the major tournament circuit by finishing one stroke behind Matsuyama.
The Athletic's Brendan Quinn was one of the many observers who were impressed by Zalatoris' efforts:
As for Schauffele, his shot into the water at No. 16 cost him one final run at the green jacket and a hefty chunk of change, as the No Laying Up podcast pointed out:
The triple bogey he carded at the par-three 16th was the first Schauffele recorded in over 1,000 holes of major golf, as PGA Tour Communications noted:
Schauffele ended in a tie for third with Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman finished in a tie for fifth after Rahm surged up the leaderboard with a final-round 66.