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Hideki Matsuyama Wins Masters, Makes History For Japan

Hideki Matsuyama overcame three bogeys in the last four holes to win the Masters Tournament on Sunday, and in doing so, became the firstJapanese man to win a golf major championship.

Matsuyama started the final round at Augusta National Golf Club with a four-stroke lead Sunday morning, coming out on top with a score of 10 under par. He bested Will Zalatoris, who finished one stroke behind, as well as Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele, who tied for third.

His journey to victory started a decade ago, with his first appearance at the Masters in 2011 after an earthquake struck his home in Sendai, Japan. He walked away with low amateur honors, according to the Masters. He recalled walking off the 18th hole when veteran pro golfer Steve Stricker complimented his game.

"That's a memory I'll cherish," he said. "Because of that round, it gave me the confidence that I could play here. I could play professional golf as a career."

The winner's purse for the 2021 Masters is more than $2 million. Matsuyama went into the tournament ranked 25th in the world, and Vegas Insider posted the odds of him winning at 46-to-1. However, those odds jumped to 5-to-6 going into the final round on Sunday.

Tiger Woods, who was unable to compete due to injuries sustained in a car crash in February, congratulated Matsuyama on Twitter shortly after the tournament ended.

The Masters concluded Sunday evening in the States, but it was Monday morning in Japan. Golf grew in popularity in Japan in the 1960s when Americans such as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus competed in tournaments and exhibition matches there.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.