At the 2019 Zozo Championship, the PGA Tour’s first official tournament in Japan, Jordan Spieth was paired in the first two rounds with Australian Adam Scott and Japan’s favorite son, Hideki Matsuyama. It gave Spieth a first-hand taste of what the life of a rock star must be like.
“I remember walking off the first tee talking to Adam and being like, I remember him saying, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’ I mean, it was six deep the entire first fairway,” Spieth recalled. “It was probably the biggest Thursday crowd and most like, maybe most exciting, most nerve-wracking crowd I had ever played in front of on like a Thursday and Friday. It was bizarre. And then I can only imagine, obviously, what this Masters impact has had over there.”
As Spieth, the 2015 Masters champ noted, he didn’t have an entire country living and dying with his every swing. If Matsuyama had rock-star treatment then, his popularity has soared since he became the first male Japanese golfer to win one of the four majors, capturing the Masters on April 11 by one stroke over Will Zalatoris.
When last spotted in the US, Matsuyama, 29, was strolling through a Chicago airport carrying the winner’s Green Jacket en route to a commercial flight to Japan, where he enjoyed showing off his new prized possession to his parents and friends. He also wore the Green Jacket on two other occasions – first for a press conference and then to receive the Prime Minister’s award from Japan’s Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo.
“I realize now the responsibility that goes with a major championship, especially the Masters,” Matsuyama said, “I’m honored. I’m flattered by the added attention, but at the same time, sometimes it’s difficult to say no. But it goes with the territory and, again, grateful that I have this opportunity and I’ll try my best to prepare well for what’s to come.”
Matsuyama hardly touched a club while he was in his native land, and he said he planned to use this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch “to try to find my game again and prepare for the PGA Championship next week.”
If anyone can avoid a Masters hangover, it’s Matsuyama, who has never shied away from hard work. As a matter of fact, Zalatoris, the Masters runner-up, identified Matsuyama’s work ethic as the trait he most admires in the Japanese star.
“The guy just absolutely grinds his tail off,” said Zalatoris, who stopped to congratulate Matsuyama in the parking lot on Tuesday, and noted he’s a constant club tinkerer. “It’s just kind of cool to see a guy try to find the tiny intricacies in different clubs and his golf swing. It’s really admirable to see someone who is that passionate about excelling at this game.”
Matsuyama has been so busy since his life-changing triumph that he hasn’t watched the Sunday broadcast of the Masters yet, but seeing the highlights brought back a flood of emotions.
“I got nervous again, just like I was playing, and it was, at some points, difficult to watch because I was so nervous,” he said.
Matsuyama described winning the Masters as both a sense of relief after previous close calls at the majors and a confidence booster, one that he hopes can spur him to even greater heights.
“It had been awhile and now moving forward and looking forward I still have the drive to want to win more on the PGA Tour and hopefully the confidence or the relief,” he explained. “It’s kind of an unusual combination of the two feelings of how I look at myself and hopefully I’ll be successful in the future.”
While he has time to select his menu for the Champions Dinner held on the Tuesday of Masters week, Matsuyama said he’s leaning towards serving sushi.
“I’m a little worried,” he said. “I don’t know if everyone will really like sushi or not, but I’m going to check with some people and get their advice and what they think. There’s a lot of really good food from Japan, a lot of, some of the best beef in the world, so I’m thinking about that and looking forward to it next year.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/05/11/hideki-matsuyama-masters-champions-dinner-menu-att-byron-nelson/