It was a victory to stop a nation. Now Japan will recognise one of the greatest sporting achievements in the country’s history with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama to be presented with the prestigious ‘Prime Minister’s Award’.
The 29-year-old Matsuyama not only brought Japan to a standstill but he endeared himself to sports fans the world over in capturing the 2021 Masters.
Matsuyama not only became the first Japanese-born male to win the Masters but the first in 161-years to capture a major championship. The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will present the award on Friday.
The Prime Minister was among the first in Japan back on April 11th to lead the tributes to Matsuyama saying: “Amid the prolonged coronavirus crisis, he gave courage to and touched the hearts of everyone across Japan.”
And in a press conference Tuesday to confirm the award, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato noted it’s not just Matsuyama’s Augusta National members green jacket that has made him a national icon.
Kato said Matsuyama had been encouraging people in areas affected by the horrific March 2011 earthquake and tsunami by winning shortly after the disaster the ‘Low Amateur’ honours at Augusta National and now he again ‘gave them great courage with his victory 10-years after the catastrophe’.
Matsuyama will be the 34th Japanese native to receive this award, but not the first golfer. That designation belongs to Ayako Okamoto, who was honoured in 1987 for winning four LPGA titles and finishing in the top five in every major that season.