Hideki Matsuyama Was So Good He Made the Masters Boring
Hideki Matsuyama secured a historic win at the Masters on Sunday, running away from the field for most of Sunday and eventually finishing at 10-under-par with a one-shot victory. But by getting so far ahead early on, Matsuyama turned the usually exciting Masters Sunday round into a snoozefest.
Midway through Sunday's round, Matsuyama was 13-under, while his competitors were all several shots back. Will Zalatoris, who finished in second-place at 9-under, was six strokes back of the leader after a bogey on the 12th. Matsuyama stumbled down the stretch, going 3-over on the final seven holes, which tightened things up considerably. But he was so far ahead it was almost a foregone conclusion, as he played conservatively and was willing to use up that cushion.
Usually we get some fireworks as the final day of the tournament winds down, but Matsuyama's dominance on Saturday and Sunday allowed him to cruise to a win. He did find water on the 15th and bogeyed as a result, which allowed Xander Schauffele to get within two shots. But on the par-3 16th, Schauffele returned the favor, splashing into the drink and carding a triple bogey. That took him far out of contention and he finished at 7-under, tied for third place with Jordan Spieth.
Spieth's Sunday round got off to a terrible start, as he bogeyed three of the first six holes and never really challenged the Matsuyama. He finished with a solid 2-under 70 on the day.
Zalatoris' made a late charge with birdies on 15th and 17th, but at the time it never felt like he was truly challenging Matsuyama. In the end, he wound up much closer than anyone thought he would be after the leader's struggles down the stretch.
In winning his first major championship, Matsuyama also became the first Japanese man to win a major. He was the low amateur at Augusta in 2011, so winning a green jacket on golf's biggest stage was a nice full-circle moment for the 29-year-old.
Matsuyama put on a clinic over the weekend and turned golf's best television product into a slow march to inevitability. There was little suspense late as he cruised to a largely stress-free win.