Hideki Matsuyama of Japan won the Masters at Augusta National with a one-stroke margin, the first male Japanese player to claim a major title.
He had a four-shot lead by the final day, but his competittors came back strongly to narrow the margin. On Sunday he shot a one-over 73, to win with 10 under par.
American Will Zalatoris, making his Masters debut, was his closest rival at nine under par, but England’s Justin Rose, who had been leading the field for two rounds, faded in the final 18, ending with a two-over 74 to end five under.
Xander Schauffele, partnered with Hideki Matsuyama, birdied the 15th to come within two shots of his partner, but his tee shot on the 16th hole went into the water, and he finished with a triple-bogey six. He ended on seven under, sharing third place with fellow American, 2015 champion Jordan Spieth.
Jon Rahm, the Spanish world number three, came in a further stroke down with a final-day 66, tieing with Marc Leishman of Australia.
Robert MacIntyre of Scotland made an impressive debut, finishing joint 12th at two under, and securing his place at next year’s Masters.
29-year-old Hideki Matsuyama’s victory, coming ten years after he won the Silver Cup as leading amateur at the 2011 Masters, will have profound implications in his home nation.
Previous Japanese champions include Hisako Higuchi who won the 1977 LGPA Championship, and Hinako Shibuno, who won the Women’s Open two years ago. The best previous performance by a Japanese male player had been Isao Aoki’s runner-up position at the 1980 US Open.
Hideki Matsuyama said: “I am really happy. My nerves really didn’t start on the back nine, it was right from the start and right until the very last putt. I was thinking about [friends and family] all the way around. I am really happy I played well for them. Hopefully I will be a pioneer and many other Japanese players will follow and I am glad to open the floodgates.”
World number 25 Matsuyama, who had not won on the PGA Tour since 2017, cemented his position on the Saturday, when he shot six under par through on his final eight holes, putting him four strokes clear of the field on 11 under. His lead was cut to one on Sunday when Zalatoris rose to nine under, but Zalatoris dropped shots on 10 and 12, increasing Matsuyama’s lead to six.
Matsuyama became the second Japanese player to enjoy a victory at Augusta in in eight days, after Tsubasa Kajitani won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last week.
Masters final leaderboard
-10 H Matsuyama (Jpn); -9 W Zalatoris (US); -7 J Spieth (US), X Schauffele (US); -6 J Rahm (Spa), M Leishman (Aus); -5 J Rose (Eng); -4 P Reed (US), C Conners (Can)
Selected others: -2 R MacIntyre (Sco); -1 T Hatton (Eng); Level S Lowry (Ire); +1 P Casey (Eng), I Poulter (Eng); +2 M Fitzpatrick (Eng), M Wallace (Eng); +5 B DeChambeau (US)