Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese-born golfer to win the Masters Tournament on Sunday, claiming the famous green jacket with two tremendous closing rounds at Augusta National.
With a milestone achievement like this in golf, some might wonder who Matsuyama’s golfing heroes are.
Well, he might have a problem answering that question, because as he told reporters after his Masters victory, he doesn’t really have any. He loves baseball players — Yu Darvish, Kenta Maeda and Shohei Ohtani, in particular.
“The people that I admired were mainly baseball players,” Matsuyama said. “As far as golf, not so much. Hopefully now others will be inspired for what happened here today and follow in my footsteps.”
There is a very strong resemblance in Matsuyama’s Masters victory to the historic season Ichiro Suzuki put together in 2001, when he won both the American League Rookie of the Year Award and the AL MVP Award. Ichiro became the first Japanese-born position player to appear in the Major Leagues, went on to log more than 3,000 MLB hits and is a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In fact, Nobuhito Sato, a board member of the Japanese Tour, mentioned Ichiro when trying to sum up the enormity of Matsuyama’s achievement for Golf Digest.
“I think Hideki could compare to Ichiro and Sadaharu Oh,” he told the magazine.
Matsuyama admires baseball players, but don’t sleep on his own skills when it comes to the diamond. According to Golf Digest, he has a pretty nasty curveball and likes to throw a baseball with both arms to warm up before a round.
A golf swing is nothing like a baseball swing. But that doesn’t mean that the winner of the world’s most prestigious golf tournament can’t relish watching his countrymen dominate in the Major Leagues, or even toss a ball around himself once in a while.