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What Hideki's Masters victory means to the people of Japan

Today, with tears still freshly welling in our eyes, Hideki Matsuyama raised his arms with the entire country of Japan. Today, Japan is finally dressed in green.

April 11, 2021

Jared C. Tilton

Editor’s note: Shimon Hoizumi represents Discovery Golf as the Senior Director of Partnerships & Market Developments. He was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan. He is an avid golf fan who shares his thoughts below on the significance of Hideki Matsuyama’s victory.

Every April, we look at the clock after dinner and tell our friends, family and even our children that we won’t be able to stay awake for much longer.

We wash our faces, brush our teeth and get into bed at 8 p.m. We set our alarms for midnight and close our eyes, trying to shake the strange feeling that it’s too early to sleep. We rest our heads on our pillows with tired anticipation; our thoughts drifting off into endless possibility. We know the next morning could bring good news — that one of our own could be a Masters champion.

Isao Aoki. Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki. Tsuneyuki “Tommy” Nakajima. Shigeki Maruyama. Ryo Ishikawa. We’ve all dreamed that we’d wake up, glance at the Masters leaderboard and see one of these names sitting at the top. In the end, every Japanese golf fan would ultimately watch the end of the broadcast with our dreams evaporating into hope for next year.

But today, in our sleepy haze, with tears still freshly welling in our eyes, Hideki Matsuyama raised his arms with the entire country of Japan.

Today, after years of waiting, Japan is finally dressed in green.

Kevin C. Cox

Players, commentators and journalists have attempted to convey what it would mean for a Japanese golfer to win golf’s most prestigious tournament. For those in the golf industry like myself (who has shamelessly gone to bed many times before his two sons just to catch Hideki compete at a PGA TOUR event), this victory is truly one of the most historic days in our lifetimes. But even for those who have never picked up a golf club, Hideki’s triumph is a stunning achievement that has created an immediate eruption of pride in our country.

In Japan, the Masters is free to air, meaning everyone in the country with a television is able to view the event. The reach of the tournament goes beyond the nearly 6.5 million individuals who play golf in the country, especially this year with Hideki’s quick rise up the leaderboard in the third round. But in the event that you were not watching the tournament, it would be almost impossible to not be aware of what was happening in Augusta. Television stations that primarily focus on politics or the economy have recently led with stories about Hideki. Even some of our most prominent news websites boast headline after headline of our golfing hero’s historic run at the Masters.

That may not seem out of the ordinary, but it’s just the beginning.

When something major happens in Japan, all national terrestrial broadcasters attempt to keep our population aware of the situation by sending a notification to every television. It is reserved for only the most important news that Japanese people need to hear. For example, when Japan’s parliament has elected a new prime minister, a notice is sent to all local channels informing us of the major political event. In extremely important natural disasters, such as earthquakes, we are also informed in this manner.

It is no surprise to me that millions of people were notified of Hideki’s breakthrough victory through this system. Just a split second after I watched his final putt drop, the message flashed on my screen. A moment that undoubtedly filled the country with as much patriotism as it felt after an election; a moment deemed worthy enough to alert the country at such an early hour.

This is what international success in sports means to Japan. When my 7-year-old son came into the living room this morning hoping to watch his favorite cartoon, I made certain to tell him the significance of this moment to our country. Countless other mothers and fathers across the nation had the same conversation with their young ones, attempting to put into words the magnitude of Hideki’s accomplishment. The Masters has always been one of those transcendent tournaments that has given us so much hope as a nation, and I think it’s important our kids understand its significance.

Hideki’s win comes at an incredible time. If there’s one event that equals the aura of the Masters, it’s the Olympics. Hideki will represent our country wearing the red and white of our flag, and I think a gold medal would look nice with a green jacket.

Ah, yes ... we can only dream. This summer will be an exciting time for all of us. And perhaps the best part?

Hideki’s fans in Japan won’t have to set our alarms for midnight to witness history.