Hideki Matsuyama makes Japan great

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By CAPosts 11 April, 2021 - 06:09pm 5 views

The Augusta Masters was decided between two great stories. On the one hand, Hideki Matsuyama in search of becoming the first Japanese with a great and the first Asian golfer to wear the green jacket. On the other, Will Zalatoris and his Cinderella tale, that of a 24-year-old American who made his debut in the tournament and who does not even have an American circuit card yet. Two dreams face to face. Between the player with a whole country behind him and the boy who hardly anyone knew, in addition to Jordan Spieth (another with a novel behind) and Xander Schauffele, the Masters were disputed.

The headline went to Matsuyama. The 29-year-old resisted the pressure and with 10 under par (half that of Dustin Johnson last year) he prevailed with a stroke of advantage over Zalatoris, three over Spieth and Schauffele, and four over a Jon Rahm who came back in a great journey to catch fifth place

The first great in the history of Japanese golf was uncorked amid tremendous tension. When Matsuyama struck the first blow of the day, he knew there was a whole country watching him (literally: Japanese televisions are an army on big dates like the Masters). The ball went to the right. At first, the leader showed weakness. In tow, Matsuyama loaded with a bogey while Zalatoris had summoned the cavalry ahead of him: birdie on one and two, and the distance of four strokes reduced to one.

“In my family we say that it was the right thing to do. stupid enough to think that I could play the Masters, I am also stupid to think that I can win ”, had summarized Zalatoris. Professional since 2018, he has made merits thanks to invitations in tournaments until at the Masters he has exploded, close to relieving Fuzzy Zoeller (1979) as the only rookie to win the trophy (so did Horton Smith in 1934 and Gene Sarazen in 1935 , but those were the first two editions). He had already warned the blond player with a sixth place in the last US Open (the one that bodybuilder DeChambeau beat), and now he is here to stay. New promises in golf keep coming out. The competition multiplies every year.

Before the Games

Matsuyama, who was the best amateur in the Masters 10 years ago, had already made history by being the first Japanese to lead a great, after a third round without failure. The national hero was ready. And he showed it on the second hole with a birdie to temper his nerves, then take advantage of pairs five of eight and 13 and walk with a firm step towards the green jacket. When his erratic tee shot hit the trees on this hole and the ball returned tame to the fairway, the champion's name seemed to have been written. He would still get a scare at 15, with the ball in the water, but a triple bogey from Schauffele at par three on 16 after four straight birdies settled the film.

Japan has a new idol on which from now on it will redouble its hopes in the greats and in the next Tokyo Games. And golf welcomed a new country among the Grand Slam winners. Matsuyama, yes, did not move a hair when he made the putt that allows him to enter a unique club. "I was nervous from the beginning to the end," he later confessed; "I hope I was the pioneer and open the door to many other Japanese players." Shortly after, Tiger Woods congratulated him on a victory that will impact “the entire world of golf.”

A mouthful of glory stayed again Jon Rahm, who in Augusta does nothing more than make an appointment with the tailor in the green jacket. There are five participations at 26 years old and in the last four he has been among the top 10: fourth, ninth, seventh and fifth. A prodigy of unparalleled consistency on the circuit and the sign that, as with Seve and Olazabal, the Masters is written in their destiny. They are four places of honor while in the other three greats together they add two: a fourth place in the 2018 PGA and a third place in the 2019 US Open.

Rahm, after a birdie in the 15.JONATHAN ERNST / Reuters

Without the spotlights on after three straight rounds in the pair, one abyss from the leader, the Basque took off like a rocket. He was about to sign the eagle on the first hole and caught it on the second (par five) to discount three strokes in a blink of an eye and go for it all. If he couldn't reach the throne, he would fight to get as close as possible. His return was immaculate, without a bogey .

In Barrika's there was the feeling that his first big one again narrowly escaped him. “It's golf. It is what it is. Today I have done what I could not do the first days, start strong and with a lot of confidence ”, analyzed Rahm. “The good thing is how well I have played and knowing that, if one day I need it, I am capable of doing little in this field and I have shown it. It's fun to think about what could have been. A pity that he was so far from the leader, ”said the Basque, on his way home quickly to Arizona after the recent birth of his first son, Kepa Cahill. “Now I finish and I forget about golf and I start thinking about Kepa. The mentality has changed and I am much more relaxed. ”

Olazabal is no longer so“ old ”

“ I don't care if they call me old. It is the plain truth. I am an ancient ”. Not so long ago that Chema Olazabal did not even have a computer or use the internet and barely used a mobile phone to send a couple of messages. Until, reinvent himself or die, the double champion of the green jacket (1994 and 1999) has had no choice but to open the door a little to the use of technology.

At age 55, he already handles with wasap, appears in some telematic chat and even this winter he allowed a tool called Trackman to sneak into his training sessions, which is used to measure the flight of the ball. Everything to better prepare himself for his beloved Augusta, the place where he feels at peace.

"I, who don't tend to be very supportive of technology, have worked quite hard with the Trackman," explained the Hondarribia before the tournament, convinced by caddy Pello Iguaran to try out some gadget of modern life. The update was not bad for him because for the first time since 2014 he passed the cut, although in the last two days he has suffered the "monster" that is such a long field for him. Three up on Saturday and three up on Sunday for +8. And ending with a huge smile after a successful putt from about seven meters on 18, his last shot of the week, a clenched fist and a face of satisfaction after the effort: "It tasted like divine glory to me."

Classification full of the Augusta Masters.

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Source: Elpais

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