Watching the Masters champion bask in the moment after the final putt drops is always one of the highlights of the year. Congratulations to the 2021 Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama!

Let’s discuss.

You know what they say…

Hideki Matsuyama woke up with a four-shot lead on Sunday morning. When he walked off the 1st green, his lead was down to one. He steadied the ship with a birdie on No. 2, but it was his par save on the 5th hole that really seemed to calm his nerves. From that point on, Matsuyama’s game was on autopilot. Yes, things got a little dicey on the 15th when he rinsed his approach over the back of the par-5 green, but his main chaser—playing partner Xander Schauffele—made a triple bogey on the next hole, all but assuring Matsuyama’s victory. While he ultimately won by just a single stroke over Will Zalatoris, it didn’t feel that close. Masters Results

It’s hard to overstate how big of a win this is for Hideki Matsuyama. Back in 2011, he made his first appearance at Augusta National as a teenage phenom from Japan. After turning pro, he quickly gained a reputation as one of the best ball-strikers in the world, a skill that was on full display this past weekend. He won five events on the PGA Tour between 2014 and 2017, reaching No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

After falling just short at the 2017 PGA Championship, Matsuyama wasn’t quite himself for a while. He put himself in contention frequently, but he wasn’t able to seal the deal. Still, he remained a top-30 player for much of that period as well as a hero to many golfers in Asia. “He’s a bit like Tiger Woods to the rest of the world,” Adam Scott said on Sunday. So this win will have an impact that’s hard for many fans in the U.S. and Europe to fathom.

As anyone who has followed the LPGA Tour for the past couple of decades knows, Asia is producing golfing talent at a striking and ever-increasing rate. Among male players, Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, Haotong Li, and Jazz Janewattananond have recently made noise at big-time events. At 29 years old, Hideki Matsuyama isn’t exactly a grizzled veteran, but he is seasoned enough to serve as a role model. And you know what looks great on a role model? A green jacket.

Working hard or hardly working?

Hideki Matsuyama didn’t end his nearly four-year winless drought through dumb luck. He worked diligently on his game and it paid off. Let Golf Blueprint show you how to get the most out of your practice sessions! Built by University of Georgia professor Kevin Moore and doctoral student Nico Darras, Golf Blueprint teaches you how to practice. Using information provided by students and its own algorithms, Golf Blueprint can tailor practice schedules to any player.

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The Latest from The Fried Egg

Two new Fried Egg events—The Jagger at Seth Raynor’s Blue Mound and the Big Muddy at Davenport Country Club—open for registration on Friday! We’re super excited to visit two of the Midwest’s premier clubs this summer and hope a bunch of you can join us.

Stairway to Amen Corner – There are lots of tours of Augusta National on the internet, but we’re pretty sure none of them have been guided by Led Zeppelin. Will Knights uses Zeppelin’s classic song “Stairway to Heaven” to map the course.

Playoffs? You want to talk playoffs? – Despite his many top 10s, elite performances in majors, and ascent to the top 30 in the world, Will Zalatoris still cannot call himself a PGA Tour member. Andy Johnson breaks down the policies that keep one of the best young players in the game on the outside looking in.

Shotgun Start: Hideki Can Win

Andy and Brendan put a bow on a fantastic weekend at the Masters, beginning with Hideki Matsuyama playing his way into a green jacket. They dispute the notion that this was somehow a boring Sunday or middling Masters. The entire first portion of the podcast covers Hideki, from what it means to his home country, the excitement from Saturday night that will be a lasting memory from this 2021 edition, the impact of his amateur experience here, and the impressive blow-by-blow of his work on Sunday that kept the chasers at arms length. Then they get to those chasers, hitting on Xander’s flop at the finish, the Spieth temptation, and both the non-PGA Tour member present and promising future of Zalatoris. They review some of their contender and pretender calls from Saturday night and then get into the alarming sequel of the Town Crier’s circus act. They close with three things they’ll most remember from the week and a note of gratitude to all of you for supporting the podcast this week. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

A decade in the making

Before we go through other Masters results, let’s give some kudos to Augusta National. For the better part of the 20th century, the green jackets had a poor record on diversity, but recently they have made major strides, including on the international stage. Along with the USGA and R&A, the club helps organize the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and Latin American Amateur Championship, both of which give Masters exemptions to winners. Hideki Matsuyama was one of those winners; in 2010 and ’11, he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur, and he earned low-amateur honors at Augusta National in 2011. Now he’s a Masters champion.

These kinds of opportunities are hugely important to young golfers in Latin America and Asia, and ANGC deserves credit for doing its part.

Masters roundup

He ended up one shot behind Matsuyama, but Will Zalatoris made a name for himself over the past few days. The 24-year-old Masters rookie had his ups and downs on Saturday and Sunday, but he hung tough. In the final round, when many expected him to fold under the pressure, Zalatoris birdied his first two holes and was the only player in the final three groups to break par. In fact, he was the only player in the field to break par in all four rounds. Not bad for Happy Gilmore’s ex-caddie.

Should a T-3 finish at the Masters ever be considered disappointing? Probably not, but it’s hard not to imagine what could have been for Jordan Spieth at the 2021 Masters. He ended up three strokes back, but given his ice-cold putter and the number of shots he wasted early in the week, three strokes seems like a thin margin. Spieth now has five top-three finishes in eight appearances at the Masters.

While most of Sunday felt like the Hideki Show, Xander Schauffele had a real chance after Matsuyama’s water ball on No. 15. Schauffele went on to record his fourth birdie in a row on the par 5, pulling within two shots of the lead… before making a mess of the par-3 16th. In all, he made two bogeys, a double bogey, and a triple bogey on Sunday, yet he still managed to shoot 72 and finish T-3. In 15 career starts in major championships, the X man has eight top 10s, one missed cut, and no wins.

Jon Rahm shot 72 in each of his first three rounds at Augusta National, saving his blazing-hot round—66—for Sunday. It was the low score of the day, vaulting Rahm to a T-5.

Quick Hooks

With Hideki Matsuyama’s victory, Japan swept the Augusta National swing! Tsubasa Kajitani won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last Saturday before Matsuyama collected his green jacket this weekend. Congrats to CanHidekiWin for the uncanny prediction.

After taking the flag from the pin on the 18th green, Matsuyama’s caddie Shota Hayafuji turned and paid respect to the course with a bow. How freaking cool is that?

CBS added a fun wrinkle on Sunday by including some audio from the Japanese telecast. The victory call in particular is worth a listen.

Shoutout to Robert MacIntyre, 47-year-old Stewart Cink, Brian Harman, and Si Woo Kim, who all placed T-12 and earned a return trip to the 2022 Masters.

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Hideki Matsuyama put on a dominant performance at the Masters. If you’re a competitor, you just have to tip your cap to him. If you accidentally get that cap dirty, grab a new Fried Egg lid to replace it!