The Masters: Hideki Matsuyama’s youngest bowing respectfully to Augusta symbolizes emotional victory for proud Japan

But following Sunday’s success, another image also went viral: Matsuyama’s caddy Shota Hayafuji retrieves the flag from the 18th hole flag as a souvenir, then turns to face the fairway, removing his hat and bow down as a sign of respect for the famous course of Augusta.
In Japanese culture, the bow originated as a gesture of deference “which began as an exclusive practice of the nobility over a thousand years ago” but has evolved into a form of greeting, according to at National Geographic.

“When the final putt took place, I really wasn’t thinking about anything,” Matsuyama told media at his post-round press conference.

“But then hugging Alex [Schauffele] … when I saw my caddy, Shota and gave him a hug, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag. And then it started to sink – the joy of being a Masters champion. “

Make an impact at home

As he donned the green jacket and held the famous trophy, which represents Augusta’s clubhouse, Matsuyama could begin to think about the significance of his victory.

After four grueling days of inclement weather, high winds and fierce opposition, the 29-year-old’s one-stroke victory at the Masters saw him become the first Japanese to win a golf major.

Although others have come together before, the wait for a great champion has been long for a country with a rich sporting background.

So long that emotions have taken over the commentators of Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). Upon Matsuyama’s victory, TBS announcer Wataru Ogasawara said, “Matsuyama has won the Masters!” before tearing himself apart and saying: “Finally, finally, Japanese has become the best in the world!”

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Co-commentator Tsuneyuki Nakajima broke down in tears and couldn’t speak after the victory.

Like Yu Darvish in baseball and Naomi Osaka in tennis before him, Matsuyama hopes his victory can bring a bright future to golf in Japan.

“I hope this affects golf in Japan in a good way,” he said.

“Not only those who are already golfers, but I hope the young people who are playing golf or thinking about playing golf, I hope they will see this win and find it cool and try to follow in my footsteps.

“So far we haven’t had a major champion in Japan, and maybe a lot of golfers or young golfers too have thought, well, maybe that’s an impossibility. do it, I hope it will serve as an example for them that it is possible and that, if they think about it, they can do it too. “

‘If this is the bar, then I put it’

After his victory, in which he showed remarkable poise despite a drought of almost four years without a win, Matsuyama believes he has raised the standard for his fellow Japanese golfers.

“I can’t say I’m the best [golfer in Japan’s history]. However, I’m the first to win a major, and if it’s the bar, then I put it on. “

With the Olympics arriving in his homeland later this year, the pressure will be on his shoulders to bring home the gold medal.

In the meantime, there have already been calls for Matsuyama to light the Olympic cauldron for the Summer Games, which he said would be a “great honor”.

Matsuyama dons the champion's green jacket after winning the Masters.

After having time to process his victory, he will return to Japan with an additional green garment in his suitcase.

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The prospect of inspiring a new generation of golfers excites Matsuyama, although he warns they will have to overtake him if they are to win.

“It’s exciting to think that there are a lot of young people in Japan watching today. Hopefully in five, ten years, when they get a little older, some of them will be competing on the world stage.” , said Matsuyama, who won $ 2.07 million from the $ 11.5 million scholarship.

“But I still have a lot of years left, so they’re still going to have to compete with me. But I’m happy for them because I hope they can follow in my footsteps.”

Mai Nishiyama and Chie Kobayashi contributed to this report.

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