AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Hideki Matsuyama is taking a piece of Augusta back home to Japan — a coveted green jacket.
“It’s thrilling to think there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching today,” Matsuyama said Sunday through a translator. “Hopefully in five to 10 years when they get a little older, hopefully some of them will be competing on the world stage.”
People around the world watched as Matsuyama clinched victory Sunday. It was special for golf lovers who live just miles from Augusta National Golf Club.
“Holes 15 and 16 were fantastic,” Jay Kim says. “What drama!”
Sunday’s win was not the first time Matsuyama was recognized at Augusta National. In 2011, he won the Silver Cup for the Low Amateur at the Masters Tournament at the age of 19.
“He won the amateur and wanted to come back,” Charles Spitz, a local golfer, says. “Now, he can come back all the time. He’s got his jacket.”
Matsuyama is now in the history books. He is the first Japanese golfer to win a major tournament His win comes a week after Japanese golfer Tsubasa Kajitani won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“Golf may have the stigma that you have to be a certain type of person or have a certain background to succeed,” Yoshi Domoto, the Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Georgia, explains. “I think it’s a great way for Japanese, Asian Americans and people from various types of backgrounds to see different types of people win a tournament like the Masters.”
Domoto tells NewsChannel 6 Georgia and Japan “share a really close relationship economically and through business. “There’s over 600 Japanese companies in our state,” he says. “Those companies employ 36,000 to 37,000 people, and invest about $11 billion in our state.” Domoto hopes Matsuyama and Kajitani’s victories in Augusta put Georgia “on the map for Japanese people.”
“Augusta and Takarazuka are sister cities. Hopefully this win will help engage the sister city relationship, bring people to Augusta and bring people from Augusta to visit Japan.”