Hideki Matsuyama claims first Tour victory on home soil in Japan with five-shot win at Zozo

Hideki Matsuyama raises his arms in victory

Hideki Matsuyama eagled the 18th hole to win the 2021 Zozo Championship by five shots.

Getty Images

It looked like it would be a tightly contested tournament down the stretch at the Zozo Championship, with home-country favorite Hideki Matsuyama clinging to a slim lead over Americans Cameron Tringale and Brendan Steele, but then, Matsuyama kicked into overdrive, carding a total of three birdies on the back nine and a punctuating eagle on the final hole to win his seventh career Tour title — and first-ever Tour victory on home soil in Japan — by a whopping five shots.

Even a bogey on the par-4 17th couldn’t derail him, as Matsuyama was buoyed by the support from the Japanese gallery. On the par-5 18th, Matsuyama hit a 3-wood approach to 12 feet and drained the eagle putt — his second of the round — to finish with a bang.

The win marked Matsuyama’s first since his historic victory at the Masters in April.

“It was one of my biggest goals to win in front of the Japanese fans here in this country as well,” Matsuyama said after his round. “So happy that I’ll be able to accomplish that. Also, in 2019 Tiger won the Masters and went on to win the Zozo Championship, so I’m glad that I would be able to emulate that as well.”

Matsuyama acknowledged that despite the fact he didn’t have his “A” game this week, the immense support from the fans carried him through.

“I would rate my performance as 2 or 3,” Matsuyama said. “From the results perspective, it went about to 8, but I think it’s because all the energy that I was getting from the fans and I was very surprised how much energy I was feeding off of them.”

With seven career Tour wins on his resume, Matsuyama, 29, is closing in on a big milestone. K.J. Choi is the Asian player with the most Tour wins, with eight. Matsuyama is now only one victory away from that mark.

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.