By 12 April, 2021 - 11:58am
“The world's number one in tennis wins 90% of the time, while the number one in golf loses 90% of the time. Golfers are great losers. " Former player Dave Feherty's words are as relevant today as when he spoke them a few years ago. The current competition on the golf planet is surely the highest in history due to the very high number of first-level applicants with options to win every Sunday. Betting on a winner is a Russian roulette,
Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese to win a big and the first Asian to wear the green jacket of the Augusta Masters on Sunday. He was also the 27th different winner this course of a tournament on the American circuit. And 28 have been contested. Only the American puncher Bryson DeChambeau has repeated victory this season in the elite. Everything else is individual slices of a huge cake. The fighting is fierce. A world number three like Jon Rahm, for example, has yet to be released. And Dustin Johnson, the first in the standings, didn't even make the cut at Augusta despite being the reigning champion and one of the big favorites.
History made for Matsuyama. History made for Japan. #themasters pic.twitter.com/oKCTLPzzYB
- The Masters (@TheMasters) April 12, 2021
In the majors, only Johnson himself and Brooks Koepka have doubled as winners in the last 20 majors . “The competition today is brutal”, analyzes the former player Manolo Piñero, Olympic captain in Rio 2016. “In my time we had 30 or 35 players with options to win a tournament. Today it is the 140 who participate who have the potential and the game to win. Golf is the sport that has grown the most in all aspects in recent years. The young people of now in their twenties are super prepared technically, physically and mentally. They are very daring. They are not afraid to compete. They continue to idolize the figures, but then they fight them face to face. And even younger, at 14 or 15 years old, there are golfers who are already wonderful. ”
There is the case of Will Zalatoris, second in the Masters to just one stroke from Matsuyama when it was his debut in the tournament and not even He has the American circuit card. A newcomer among giants and one step away from glory. Another competitor for the present and the future
Hideki Matsuyama makes Japan great
The abundant prize pools also fuel this relentless fight. A few months ago, the American Kevin Kisner, current world number 41, admitted that he did not see himself qualified to win in any tournament. So why play? They asked him. "Because they give a lot of money to be in the position number 20", settled.
20 years ago, Tiger Woods completed the so-called Tiger Slam. By winning the Masters in April 2001, he became the defending champion of the Big Four at the same time. A feat from another dimension. Today the winners give each other the alternative. The latest is Matsuyama, whom Tiger congratulated for his enormous "impact on the entire world of golf." “It is very good that Japan already has a great one for all that Asian golf is growing,” says Manolo Piñero.
Japanese is already spoken at the green jacket club, a language that Matsuyama used to respond timidly to questions when asked crowned Sunday (a translator accompanied him). "It is very exciting to think that today in Japan there are many children watching me and that they can compete in the future," said the champion, whom in his country they are already waiting with a new mission: gold in their Games .
Asian power in the elite female
Among the 100 best players in the world in the men's category there are only six Asian golfers (Matsuyama is the first, in 14th place). Among the top 100 players, the number of Asian women is 52 (the top three are Korean). Marta Figueras Dotti, president of the European women's circuit, sees two reasons for this huge difference: “One is due to genetics. They have a sensitivity in their hands that the rest of the players do not have, it is impressive. And the other is cultural. Their families force them to move forward with their profession, and that pressure is very hard for them. I have already known several cases of players aged 22-23 who have wanted to commit suicide due to the tremendous pressure they have, and that is why they retire so soon, they have a very short professional life. In the case of men, military service slows them down and that is why it is very rare to see an Asian golfer among the best in the world ”.