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Fitting tribute

Masters 2021: Hideki Matsuyama’s caddie found a touching way to celebrate their win on the 18th green

April 11, 2021

It got a little bumpy for Hideki Matsuyama toward the end of the final round of the Masters on Sunday. Bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes caused his once six-shot lead to be cut to two strokes. And then, when he hit his approach shot on the 18th hole into the right greenside bunker, there was another anxious moment as to whether the 29-year-old Japanese native would close out the win and become the first male golfer from his country to claim a major championship.

Matsuyama didn’t save par, but the bogey still gave him a one-stroke win over Will Zalatoris, closing out a one-over 73 for the day. He then gave a big hug to his caddie, Shota Hayafuji, who helped guide Matsuyama to the clubhouse. It was a moment of relief for the pair, who no doubt understood the historic nature of the accomplishment.

Suffice it to say, the emotional moment for Matsuyama was also an emotional one for Hayafuji. Moments later, he picked up the flagstick and unscrewed the top to be able to take the 18th hole flag as a memento of the moment. Hayafuji then returned the flagstick to the hole, and offered one more touching salute to the history that had just been made.

A fitting ending to a memorable victory.

Matsuyama was appreciative of Hayafuji, noting this in his press conference after the win. "When the final putt went in, I really wasn't thinking of anything," he said. "But then when I saw my caddie, Shota, and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag. And then it started sinking in—the joy of being a Masters champion."