Japan has hailed the 'bright news' of Hideki Matsuyma's historic maiden major at Augusta National after he won the Masters by one stroke ahead of American debutant Will Zalatoris.
Matsuyama becomes the first Japanese male to scoop a major after holding his nerve on Sunday to shoot a one-over 73 to finish 10 under par.
It is a decade now since the 29-year-old showed such promise by winning the Silver Cup as the leading amateur at the 2011 Masters, and so bringing home the title has already been warmly received in his home nation, especially as they host the Olympics in just three months.
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"It is another bright piece of news of a Japanese athlete's outstanding performance on the global stage under tough circumstances like training," said Katsunobu Kato, Japan's top government spokesman.
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also called Matsuyama's win "wonderful" and a source of pride and courage for the Japanese people during the pandemic.
Japan has boasted 1977 LGPA Championship winner Hisako Higuchi and Hinako Shibuno, who won the Women's Open two years ago, but the closest they have had to a male champion was Isao Aoki, runner-up at the 1980 US Open.
"I was thinking about friends and family all the way around," said Matsuyama after his win. "I am really happy I played well for them/ Hopefully I will be a pioneer and many other Japanese payers will follow and I am glad to be opening the floodgates.
The victory has heralded calls for Matsuyama to be Japan's flagbearer during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, and while he was thrilled to be a pioneer for men's golf in Japan and will feature at the Olympics, he was unsure whether he would be available for the ceremony.
"If the schedules worked out and I am in Japan when that happens and they ask me, what an honour that would be," he added.
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