The Masters 2021: Green Jacket-ed Hideki Matsuyama would relish Olympic flame role

Matsuyama celebrated becoming the first Japanese man to win a major golf title on Sunday when he captured the Masters by one stroke after a back-nine battle at Augusta National.

Agence France-Presse April 12, 2021 10:23:41 IST
The Masters 2021: Green Jacket-ed Hideki Matsuyama would relish Olympic flame role

Last year's The Masters champion Dustin Johnson helps Hideki Matsuyama with the Green Jacket. AP

Hideki Matsuyama looks forward to the reaction in Japan when he brings home the Masters champion green jacket and he would enjoy the idea of lighting the Tokyo Olympic cauldron.

Matsuyama celebrated becoming the first Japanese man to win a major golf title on Sunday when he captured the Masters by one stroke after a back-nine battle at Augusta National.

"I can't imagine what it's going to be like, but what a thrill and honour it'll be for me to take the green jacket back to Japan," Matsuyama said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo of England said Matsuyama should be chosen to light the Tokyo Olympic cauldron next July at the Games opening ceremonies after the historic victory.

"It would be quite an honour," said Matsuyama. "But I'm not sure about my schedule. If the schedules worked out and I'm in Japan when that happens and they ask me, what an honour that would be."

The humble Matsuyama will almost certainly be in Japan as a member of Japan's Olympic golf team. The men's event opens 29 July, just days after the Games are set to begin.

"I'm really looking forward to the Olympic Games in Tokyo," he said. "If I'm on the team, and maybe it looks like I will be, I'll do my best to represent my country, and hopefully I'll play well."

Matsuyama did that in Sunday's final round despite a one-over par 73 finishing total.

He said the pressure and nerves of playing for his nation and his own dream of winning the Masters did not strike him until he was on the first tee - about to strike his first shot.

"I felt really good going to the first tee, until I stood on the first tee, and then it hit me that I'm in the last group of the Masters Tournament and I'm the leader by four strokes," he said.

"And then I was really nervous. But I caught myself."

His first shot went way right into trees and he opened wih a bogey but answered with a birdie at the second and grinded out a solid round before a late charge by Xander Schauffele added some tension to the back nine.

'Not thinking anything'

Matsuyama made bogeys on three of the last four holes but led by enough to claim a one-stroke victory, although it took a minute for that to sink in.

"When the final putt went in, I really wasn't thinking of anything," he said. "But then hugging Xander -- but then when I saw my caddie, Shota and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag.

"And then it started sinking in, the joy of being a Masters champion."

Part of the thrill, he said, is the idea that he could inspire some youth who become major golf rivals while he is still playing.

"It's thrilling to think that there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching," he said. "Hopefully in five, 10 years, when they get a little older, hopefully some of them will be competing on the world stage.

"I still have a lot of years left, so they are going to have to compete against me still. But I'm happy for them because hopefully they will be able to follow in my footsteps."

Updated Date:

also read

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele's participation in doubt after skipping qualifier
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele's participation in doubt after skipping qualifier

Although he did not compete in Saturday's race, the Ethiopian federation can still draft Bekele if they wish for a much-awaited duel with reigning Olympic champion and Kenyan world record holder Eliud Kipchoge.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Torch relay to take another detour; diving test event opens
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Torch relay to take another detour; diving test event opens

The relay, which will involve 10,000 runners from every corner of Japan, started six weeks ago and has been mostly on schedule despite major re-routing in Osaka and in Matsuyama City in nearby Ehime prefecture.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Mirabai Chanu confident of podium finish, aims to undo Rio failure
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Mirabai Chanu confident of podium finish, aims to undo Rio failure

“I am confident of challenging the Chinese. At the end of the day, you have to just lift weights. The absence of North Korea will be a definite help, and I am confident of making up for my non-performance in Rio and return with a medal,” Chanu said.