As the sun rose on Monday morning in Japan, the country woke up to the historic news of Hideki Matsuyama becoming the first male golfer from the country to win a major championship. The newly crowned Masters champion hopes his win will serve as an inspiration for future generations.
The 1-stroke victory at the 85th Masters came 10 years after Matsuyama was named the best amateur on his debut in Augusta. On Sunday, the Japanese golfer finally found himself holding aloft the ultimate trophy while wearing the famous green jacket.
Matsuyama is widely regarded as the greatest golfer to emerge from Japan. But the humble star, who is frequently hounded by the press in his homeland, only accepts some of the praise that comes his way.
"I can't say I'm the greatest," Matsuyama said after his win, as quoted on Scroll. "However, I'm the first to win a major, and if that's the bar, then I've set it."
Matsuyama's dream of capturing golf's top prizes began when his father, Mikio Matsuyama, took him for his first lessons at Ocean Golf as a four-year-old.
While Tiger Woods was the Masters champion's favourite golfer growing up, he counted Japan's baseball players as his role models. However, Matsuyama hopes that his triumph will now serve as a stepping stone for the young golfers from Japan who are looking to make an impact on the global stage.
"The people that I admired were mainly baseball players: (Yu) Darvish, (Shohei) Ohtani, (Kenta) Maeda," Matsuyama said of the three Japanese baseball stars now playing in Major League Baseball in the United States.
"As far as golf, not so much. Hopefully, now others will be inspired for what happened here today and follow in my footsteps."
Matsuyama, 29, admitted that he came into the tournament with little or no expectations but revealed that his practice round on Wednesday changed his mindset after he found something in his swing.
"I came to Augusta with little or no expectations, but as the week progressed, as I practiced, especially on Wednesday, I felt something again," the Japanese golfer said.
"I found something in my swing. And when that happens, the confidence returns. And so I started the tournament with a lot of confidence."
Matsuyama's victory at the Augusta Masters is certain to propel his popularity in Japan, while also earning him a place for the ages in Japanese sporting history.