It is a month since Hideki Matsuyama captured the hearts of golf fans the world over in winning the Masters. Matsuyama has now returned from a triumphant journey back to his beloved Japan homeland to tee-up in this week’s AT&T Bryon Nelson in what is his third straight appearance in the event, this year being held at the TPC Craig Ranch course in McKinney, Texas.
Not many will remember that Matsuyama had previously contested the event (T16th/2018 & T23rd/2019) but everyone will be looking forward to seeing the first Japanese-born winner of the Masters competing this week in the Lone Star State.
“Their dreams are no longer just dreams.”
A visit to a Tokyo driving range shows how Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters win inspired a nation. ?? pic.twitter.com/NePuwIUcFb
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 11, 2021
It’s not been a whirlwind month for Matsuyama in terms of publicity associated with other Masters Champions. There’s not been the seemingly quintessential yet painful visits to the New York-based late night TV shows nor the trip up the Empire State Building. Instead, Matsuyama had to quarantine himself for a fortnight upon arrival home, so how did he spend his initial 10-days?
“Probably the one thing that stands out is I got back to Japan and I was quarantined for two weeks and I was able to probably read every news article and newspaper and magazine and watch plenty of TV,” he said. “And seeing how the Masters win was portrayed in Japan was great, really unforgettable, and that really stands out for my trip back to Japan.
“It was a bit embarrassing as I’m not used to all that attention, but grateful that people took notice. I also able to watch the complete TV broadcast, but I did see some of the highlights, and I was, while I was watching those highlights, I got nervous again, just like I was playing, and it was, at some points, difficult to watch because I was so nervous and all those nervous memories was brought back.”
Highlight of Matsuyama’s triumphant return home was undoubtedly slipping on his spanking new Augusta National members green jacket in being awarded the Prime Ministers medal by current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, with Matsuyama handing him a Masters logo cap.
“I was very proud to be able to show it to my parents and family and friends,” he said. “I wore it twice in Japan. The first time was at a media press conference and then again I wore it when I was able to meet with the prime minister of Japan. I received an award from him”.
And now like all major champions before him, there comes with glory at the game’s level all the demands and requests Matsuyama will now face for the remainder of his playing career and if you’ve seen the Japanese media he attracts, that’s nothing to what it will be like once we come out of this current pandemic. Though it’s great also to hear the normally shy Japanese golfing giant saying it will not change him as a person.
“I realise now the responsibility that goes with a major championship, especially the Masters and I’m honoured,” he said.
“I’m flattered by the added attention, but at the same time, sometimes it’s difficult to say ‘no’. But it goes with the territory and, again, I’m grateful that I have this opportunity and I’ll try my best to prepare well for what’s to come..
“But ‘no’ it should not change me. Looking at myself, I mean, it was a relief, really, to win the Masters. It had been awhile and now moving forward and looking forward I still have the drive to want to win more on the PGA Tour and hopefully the confidence or the relief. It’s kind of an unusual combination of the two feelings of how I look at myself and hopefully I’ll be successful in the future.”
And now that a first Japan-born golfer has won The Masters, can we expect sushi on your 2022 ‘Champions Dinner’ menu?
“Yeah, sushi does come to mind. I’m a little worried. I don’t know if everyone will really like sushi or not, but I’m going to check with some people and get their advice and what they think,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good food from Japan, a lot of, some of the best beef in the world, so I’m thinking about that and looking forward to it next year.”
Congratulations Hideki as you’ve already displayed dignity and honour to endear yourself to golf fans the world over in just a month as a lifetime Masters Champion.
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