April 11, 2021
Augusta, Georgia, USA
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my distinct honor to welcome our 2021 Masters Champion, our first champion from Japan, Hideki Matsuyama.
Hideki, ten years ago we welcomed you to the Masters as the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. When you finished Low Amateur, we knew it was only the beginning of a long career competing at Augusta National.
Today, seeing you slip on the green jacket, and after an incredible performance, we couldn't be more proud. And I know the 126 million people in Japan, waking up to the nation's first Masters Champion, couldn't be prouder, as well.
Congratulations on your historic accomplishment.
We'll now take some questions.
Q. Why did you go for the green on 15, and what were you thinking when you stood on the 16th tee and your lead was only two shots?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Xander had just made three birdies in a row at 12, 13 and 14. I hit the fairway at 15, hitting first, with Xander having the momentum, I felt -- it was a four-stroke lead, and I felt I needed to birdie 15 because I knew Xander would definitely be birdieing or maybe even eagling.
But it didn't happen. And so I stood on the 16th tee with a two-stroke lead, and unfortunately for Xander, he found the water with his tee shot and I played safe to the right of the green at 16.
Q. You might know what I'm going to ask because I asked it a million times before, but you dodged the question a few times. Are you now the greatest golfer out of Japan; do you feel that way? And how important is it that you've done this, being the first person from Japan to win a men's major golf tournament?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: You know, I can't say I'm the greatest. However, I'm the first to win a major, and if that's the bar, then I've set it.
Q. Do you realize how big of a hero you are to young kids all around the world, especially to those who are in Japan waking up to you wearing a green jacket? How does that make you feel?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: It's thrilling to think that there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching today. Hopefully in five, ten years, when they get a little older, hopefully some of them will be competing on the world stage.
But I still have a lot of years left, so they are going to have to compete against me still. But I'm happy for them because hopefully they will be able to follow in my footsteps.
Q. Nick Faldo was already speculating that you might be chosen to light the Olympic cauldron in July. Is that something you would love to do, or would you be maybe a little bit reserved or shy for that experience?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: It would be quite an honor. But I'm not sure about my schedule. If the schedules worked out and I am in Japan when that happens and they ask me, what an honor that would be.
Q. Just two questions. First one, you were going to already be a focus of the Olympics. How much pressure will you now feel to bring home a Gold Medal playing on your home soil?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I'm really looking forward to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. If I am on the team, and maybe it looks like I will be, I'll do my best to represent my country, and hopefully I'll play well.
Q. Could I just go back to the 15th hole? What was the yardage and the club, and did you catch it right, or was it a little thin and that's why it went like such a rocket?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: 227 to the pin. Hit a 4-iron. Flushed the 4-iron, and that's why it went long.
Q. People often say, "He's a rock star in Japan," you hear that phrase occasionally. When you're in Japan, do you feel like a rock star?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I don't know. (Laughter.)
Q. I wanted to ask you if you consider your last round at Akron as your best round ever, and how would you compare it with your third round here this year?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Both were right up there at the top of my list. However, I would say the third round yesterday here at Augusta National was even better.
And Firestone, that was four years ago; I'd almost forgotten it.
Q. What do you think this means for golf back home in Japan?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I hope it will affect golf in Japan in a good way. Not only those who are golfers already, but hopefully the youngsters who are playing golf or thinking about playing golf, I hope they will see this victory and think it's cool and try to follow in my footsteps.
Up until now, we haven't had a Major Champion in Japan, and maybe a lot of golfers or younger golfers, too, thought, well, maybe that's an impossibility. But with me doing it, hopefully that will set an example for them that it is possible and that, if they set their mind to it, they can do it, too.
Q. On 18 when you holed the last putt, your reaction looked reserved or understated. What were you feeling at that moment? Because it was hard to tell.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: When the final putt went in, I really wasn't thinking of anything. But then hugging Xander -- 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.
Q. You said in Butler Cabin that you were nervous from the start today. Did you feel like you were playing for more than yourself out there, and how did you keep the nerves in check?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: My plan this morning was to wake up about 9:30. But needless to say, I arose much earlier than that and couldn't go back to sleep. So I came to the golf course early. Had a really good warm-up. I felt really good going to the first tee, until I stood on the first tee, and then it hit me that I'm in the last group of the Masters Tournament and I'm the leader by four strokes. And then I was really nervous.
But I caught myself, and the plan today was just go out and do my best for 18 holes. And so that was my thought throughout day, just keep doing my best. Do my best.
Q. I guess this is a bit of an awkward question to ask you with Bob interpreting, but could you describe your relationship with Bob Turner and how important has he been to you on this journey to this day?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: Bob is a trustworthy friend. First met when I was in college, and yesterday after the round, I wanted to ask Bob what Seve would have done, because Bob used to work with Seve Ballesteros.
But unfortunately I didn't get that opportunity, so I had to just kind of wing it by myself. He's a good friend.
Q. What was the single most important shot you struck all week, and what was the strongest part of your game this week?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: It's been a struggle recently. This year, no Top 10s, haven't even contended. So I came to Augusta with little or no expectations. But as the week progressed, as I practiced, especially on Wednesday, I felt something again. I found something in my swing.
And when that happens, the confidence returns. And so I started the tournament with a lot of confidence.
And as far as the best shot, probably the best shot is the last tee shot at 18 today, hitting the fairway. I knew I had to do that.
Q. If you end up being an inspiration to younger Japanese golfers now, are there athletes from your country who inspired you, maybe ones that had come to America? Or where did your inspiration come from?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: You know, the people that I admired were a lot -- were mainly baseball players: Darvish, Ohtani, Maeda.
As far as golf, not so much. Hopefully now others will, like you said, be inspired for what happened here today and follow in my footsteps.
Q. What do you think the reception will be like when you go back to Japan as a Masters Champion, and are you prepared for the treatment and attention that you're going to get and don't like?
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: I can't imagine what it's going to be like, but what a thrill and honor it will be for me to take the green jacket back to Japan. And I'm really looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Well, thank you, Hideki. For our record, would you go through your card, yardage and the clubs, please.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA: First hole hit a 3-wood off the tee into the right trees. Second shot, I laid up short of the green with a 5-iron, just punched it out. Third shot was a 60-degree wedge at 45 yards, and then 2-putted for bogey.
Second hole, hit a driver. Had 253 left. Hit a 4-iron into the right bunker. Blasted out just a couple of feet. Made birdie.
Third hole, teed off with a 4-iron. Had 120 yards. Hit a 52-degree wedge over the green. Chipped up close and made par.
4, I hit a 4-iron back edge of the green. Had about 38, probably 40 feet, and 2-putted from there.
5th hole, I hit a driver into the left bunker. Blasted out with a 52-degree wedge. Had a hundred yards left. Hit a 56-degree wedge to 20 feet and made that putt for par.
No. 6, had 183 to the pin. Hit 8-iron 15 feet and 2-putted for par.
7, I hit a driver. Had 115 yards to the pin. Gap wedge to three feet. Missed the birdie putt and made par.
On 8, hit a driver. Second shot was 280 yards. Hit a 3-wood over the green. Chipped back on. Chipped to two feet and made that for birdie.
No. 9, hit a driver from a hundred yards and then hit a 56-degree wedge to two feet for birdie.
10, hit a 3-wood with my tee shot. 175 yards left. Hit a 7-iron to about 20 feet, 2-putted for par.
11, hit a driver. Had 196 yards in. 6-iron to the right edge of the green, the collar, and 2-putted from there.
12, I hit 157 yards. Hit a 9-iron to the back bunker. Hit it out short. Had 15 feet and 2-putted from there for a bogey.
13, I hit driver 215 yards in and hit a 5-iron left of the green. I chipped up to there to two feet and made a birdie.
14, hit a driver 127 yards. Hit a gap wedge 15 feet right of the pin. 2-putted for par.
15, hit a driver. Had 227 yards in, 4-iron over the green into the water. Had 40 yards back to the pin. 60-degree wedge just short of the green. 2-putted from there for bogey.
16, 183 yards, hit a 7-iron to the right part of the green 40 feet, three-putted from there for bogey.
17, hit a driver 140 yards in. Hit a pitching wedge to 20 feet. 2-putted for par.
18, hit a driver. Had 140 yards in. Hit a pitching wedge into the right bunker. Blasted out to five feet and 2-putted from there to be the Masters Champion.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much and congratulations once again, Hideki.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports