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Masters champion Matsuyama open to lighting Tokyo Olympic cauldron

By Andrew Both

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Hideki Matsuyama lower a solitary determine as he walked alone to the clubhouse to signal his card after profitable the Masters on Sunday, even when all of Japan was with him in spirit.

After exchanging hugs beside the 18th inexperienced along with his small entourage, a stoic Matsuyama was left to himself to signal his scorecard and put together for a brand new life that can by no means be the identical after turning into the primary Masters champion from Asia.

Even earlier than the profitable putt dropped the notion was already being raised, by three-times Masters champion Nick Faldo, that Matsuyama might be chosen to gentle the cauldron on the Olympics opening ceremony within the Japan National Stadium on July 23.

Matsuyama is finalising his plans however is probably going to be within the nation at the moment as a member of Japan’s golf workforce six days earlier than the Olympic males’s competitors begins on July 29.

“If the schedule works out and I am in Japan when that happens and they ask me, what an honour that would be,” Matsuyama mentioned by way of his interpreter, earlier than including with typical Japanese humility his ideas concerning the Olympic golf.

“If I am 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,” he mentioned.

But if Matsuyama has performed his approach into the hearts of Japanese golf followers by turning into the primary man from his nation to win a significant championship, he’s unlikely to supply up a lot movie star fodder.

A really personal individual, to an extent that he makes Tiger Woods appears to be like like an open ebook, Matsuyama hardly ever speaks of his household. The Japanese media, who comply with his each step, didn’t even know for seven months that he had married again in 2017.

It was not till Matsuyama introduced that spouse Mae had given start to a lady that they discovered about his nuptials.

The 29-year-old prefers to let his golf equipment do the speaking and even within the glow of victory was reluctant to acknowledge that he was the best participant from his nation.

“I can’t say I’m the greatest,” he mentioned. “However, I’m the first to win a major and if that’s the bar then I’ve set it.”


The stress of sleeping on a four-shot lead prompted Matsuyama to get up a lot sooner than he had hoped on Sunday, and after some first-tee nerves he remained inscrutable till the very finish.

“I felt really good 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 mentioned.

“And then I was really nervous but I caught myself, and the plan today was just go out and do my best for 18 holes.”

It was not till he smoked a drive up the center on the final that the job was nearly completed, having the luxurious of having the ability to make a bogey and nonetheless triumph.

“He’s not going to double from there,” mentioned one spectator.

“It’s all over,” added one other, the close to silence damaged solely by a chook tweeting close by.

So what had Matsuyama been considering upon holing the profitable putt?

“When the final putt went in, I really wasn’t thinking of anything,” he mentioned.

“But then hugging Xander (playing competitor Schauffele) — then when I saw my caddie Shota (Hayafuji) and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag.

“And then it began sinking in, the enjoyment of being a Masters champion.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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