Hideki Matsuyama: Master’s champion receives Japan Prime Minister's Award

Matsuyama claimed the ultimate trophy Sunday with a victory in the Masters to become the first Japanese winner of the green jacket.

Hideki Matsuyama with his trophy, Image credit: Facebook
By Amruth Kalidas | Apr 30, 2021 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that Hideki Matsuyama will receive the Prime Minister’s Award for his victory at the 2021 Masters. In a stunning turnaround after storms doused the course, Matsuyama had four birdies, an eagle and a superb par at the end of a 7-under 65, turning a three-shot deficit into a four-shot lead as he became the first Japanese player to win a major.

Matsuyama is the first Japanese winner at Augusta National, the famous American club. He won the low amateur title at the 2011 Masters just weeks after the earthquake, tsunami and the meltdown of three nuclear reactors devastated the north-eastern Fukushima area of Japan. The catastrophe reportedly killed about 18,000 people.

However, in a press conference Tuesday Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato noted it’s not just Matsuyama’s green jacket that has made him a national icon. Kato pointed to the inspiration Matsuyama provided when grabbing Low Am honours a decade ago at Augusta National amid the fallout from Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Matsuyama will be the 34th individual to receive this award, but not the first golfer. That designation belongs to Ayako Okamoto, who was honoured in 1987 for winning four LPGA titles and finishing in the top five in every major that season.

Matsuyama wore the Masters green jacket at the presentation and gave the prime minister a green cap from the tournament and a pin flag from the club.

Matsuyama also had said that he hopes to win the gold medal at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

INBEE Park and young park share the lead

Inbee Park was unable to hit the heights of her opening round but a three-under-par 69 gave her a share of the lead with fellow South Korean Park Hee-young at the halfway stage of the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore on Friday.

Young Park, who shot 68, and world No. 2-ranked Inbee Park (69) had two-round totals of 11-under 133.

Overnight leader Inbee Park, who won the title in 2015 and 2017, shot a blemish-free 64 on Thursday but took a while to find her putting touch in her second round, dropping a shot at the third.

She drilled in a lengthy putt across the seventh green for her first birdie, however, and two more followed at the next two holes.

Another South Korean player, Hyo Joo Kim, was two strokes back in tie for third with Lin Xiyu of China. Lin birdied her last hole to also finish with a 68.

The tour moves to the Bangkok area next week for the Honda LPGA Thailand.