Hideki Matsuyama was hailed as the Japanese Tiger Woods after claiming the Masters title.
The world No.25 became Japan’s first male Major champion with a one-shot win over debutant Will Zalatoris.
His friend and former Masters champion Adam Scott said: “This is huge to be the first Japanese male to win a major. Hideki in Japan is a bit like a Tiger Woods to the rest of the world. I think he’ll become the superstar of Japan if he isn’t already.”
Before the Green Jacket ceremony in the Butler Cabin, Matsuyama said: “I am really happy. I was thinking about my friends and family back home all the way around today. I was very happy that I played well for them.
“Hopefully I will be a pioneer and many other Japanese will follow. I am glad to be able to open the floodgates hopefully and more will follow me.”
Two Japanese women have won major titles, Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 Women’s British Open and Chako Higuchi at the 1977 LPGA Championship.
A decade after finishing as the leading amateur at Augusta National, Matsuyama started the final shot with a four-shot lead and extended his lead to five after the front nine. But there was a two-shot swing on the 15th when he overshot the green and found water on the 15th for bogey while his playing partner Xander Schauffele picked up a birdie. But the American found water off the tee at the 16th and Matsuyama could bogey the final hole and still slip on the Green Jacket after his closing 73 saw him finish on 10-under par.
“My nerves didn’t start on the second nine – it was right from the start today right till the very last putt,” said Matsuyama after his first win since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August 2017 when he shot a closing 61.
Zalatoris, in his first Major, was the only member of the chasing pack to put pressure on Matsuyama with a closing 70. Schauffele and 2015 champion Jordan Spieth finished two shots further back.
First-round leader Justin Rose started the final round in tied second place but slipped to seventh after a closing 74.
The Olympic champion said: “I enjoyed the week for sure – it just more evidence to me that I love this golf course and I know how to play this golf course. I really read the greens well apart from today. The putter went cold today.”
Scotland’s Bob nailed a 72nd hole birdie to finish in the top 12 on his Masters debut and earn an invite back next year.
“I have played great for my first year and tried to manage my way around a golf course I have never seen – I have only played it on computer games with my pals,” said the man from Oban. “If I had known this golf course more and more, who knows, I could have been up there competing. But just now, I am happy enough with the way I played. Hopefully there are plenty more opportunities to come.”