Hideki Matsuyama Q&A: The reigning Masters champ reflects on his life-changing win
Last year, Hideki Matsuyama experienced a major breakthrough win at Augusta. He discussed the epic achievement in an exclusive interview with Dylan Dethier below.
Thinking back to last year’s Masters, what is the moment that most sticks in your memory?
It has to be wearing the green jacket for the first time.
Did you have a childhood golf hero?
My golf hero growing up was — and still is — Tiger Woods. For my generation, I think Tiger is everyone’s hero.
Did you watch the Masters as a kid?
I used to get up at 5:00 a.m. in Japan and watch the Masters broadcast every year. The first time was in 1997, when Tiger won.
Last year, there was a rain delay in the third round of the event, and right before it you hit what you said was “the worst shot” of the week. After the delay—which you said you spent mostly in your car, playing on your smartphone—you played spectacularly and by the end of the day led by 4. What magic happened in the car?
I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. [Ultimately,] I just went out and played each shot the best I could. Thankfully, I hit some good ones.
Were you nervous during Sunday’s final round? Was there a point—like when your ball sailed over the green on the 15th hole—where you worried about the outcome?
I was very nervous before and during Sunday’s final round. In fact, I was nervous on every shot.
Your caddie, Shota Hayafuji, bowed to the course after your win, and a photo of that moment spread quickly. People appreciated the show of respect. You and Shota seem to have a close relationship. What did that moment mean for you?
Shota is a great guy and a great friend. He was a year younger than me in school, but we went to the same junior high, high school and college. We played together on the school golf teams during that time. Shota spoke at our wedding reception and is like a little brother to me. When I sank the final putt on the 18th green last year, my first thought was that I finally won a tournament with Shota on my bag. I was really happy for him, and then the joy of just winning the Masters hit me. I’m so glad I could share that with Shota.
How has winning the Masters changed your life?
A lot more people recognize me on and off the golf course. The galleries at other tournaments have given me warm welcomes at every tee, which has been very gratifying. And more people seem to want my autograph now.
Now that you’ve won the Masters, what’s your biggest goal?
To win more majors.
And what have you selected for your Champions Dinner?
Still a secret!