(dpa) – Japanese fans and officials were elated at the news that golfer Hideki Matsuyama has won the 85th Masters at Augusta National in the United States.
The 29-year-old Matsuyama became the first Japanese man to win a major championship, a decade after he finished as the leading amateur at the Masters.
Many Japanese got up early Monday morning to watch the historic moment live on TV.
A television newscaster for Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) choked up with tears when Matsuyama clinched the tournament win.
“Japan is in a jubilant mood,” he said.
Tsuneyuki Nakajima, one of Japan’s legendary golfers, who was a commentator on the TBS program, said, “I’m really glad to witness this moment. I had never imagined that this day would come. I am at a loss for words.”
“When you come back to Japan, let me slip into the green jacket,” Nakajima asked Matsuyama.
Matsuyama’s victory “inspired and encouraged the Japanese public amid the prolonged effects of the novel coronavirus,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
“He also became the first Asian to win the Masters Tournament. It was a really remarkable achievement.
Since Matsuyama graduated from Tohoku Fukushi University in north-eastern Japan, “I believe this victory has given strength to the recovery from the region’s disaster,” the prime minister said, referring to the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami.
The disaster left about 18,400 people dead or missing and caused the nation’s worst nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
“Mr Matsuyama is still young. I look forward to his future performances,” Suga added.
When Matsuyama entered Tohoku Fukushi University, his golf club head coach Yasuhiko Abe told him to “become a golfer to be able to compete abroad, not in Japan,” he recalled at a news conference.
Abe said Matsuyama has been an aspiring player.
“I believe he is now thinking about winning a next tournament and a next major title after this victory,” he said.
Tiger Woods, who won the Masters five times, including the 2019 tournament, also congratulated Matsuyama.
“Making Japan proud Hideki. Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment for you and your country. This historical @TheMasters win will impact the entire golf world,” Woods tweeted.