HIdeki Matsuyama: Japanese Golfer Wins masters

Written by: Scott

Edited by: Lucas

Visual by: Johanna 


South Africa’s underdog victory over Australia in the 1995 World Rugby Championship in their first time allowed in the tournament since the end of Apartheid.

The Christmas “Truce” Football match that took place during WWI between German and British soldiers in 1914.

And now Hideki Matsuyama’s victory at the PGA Masters Tournament 2021.

All of these sporting wins and their impacts were not only limited to the sporting world however were able to make change in their social communities. Taking a closer look at Matsuyama’s recent victory, Bamboo Telegraph analyzes how the win makes a statement outside of sport.

Matsuyama is the first ever male Japanese golfer to win a golf major and the first Asian-born champion of the Masters. The victory is a Golf Major, one of four majors that occurs every year and are heavily anticipated  . While Matsuyama is from Japan, this victory is monumental for all Asians and Asian-Americans in light of the recent spark of anti-Asian hate crimes. Over the last year, Asian hate crimes in the U.S. have risen over 150% (The Guardian). Through the course of this year Asian voices have been quieted and suppressed. One way to rid this sudden silence is to give a global platform for these voices such as Asians in key roles of Hollywood films, national news reports, and lastly in the sporting world. Seeing a successful athlete in the media of similar descent is something that can inspire voices to speak out and allow aspiring athletes to find success. Being a minority in America or an “American Underdog” has its restrictions in mentors and role models available for all the aspiring minority athletes and citizens to look up to. The victory works to solve this lack of minority presence giving the title of ‘role model’ to Matsuyama. Hideki’s win comes at a time where any Asian success story is welcomed with open arms in order to inspire and create more asianrole models.

In a tragic series of events that occurred in the last month in the state of Georgia,  Matsuyama was able to put aside devastating events and perform on a high level for the global audience. In the same state where Matsuyama won the Masters came the domestic terrorism shootings targeted at an Asian spa. While Hideki did not have roots in the Asian community of Georgia, he did represent all East Asians as he performed at peak performance for a week in Augusta, Georgia. The resilience displayed by Matsuyama to continue swinging the club despite inhumane hate crimes targeting “American Underdogs” is something only the strongest athletes on and off the course are able to do.

Similar to the successes that made political noise in 1995 (World Rugby Championship) and 1914 (WWI Christmas football match), Hideki Matsuyama made possibilities for systemic change. He gives hope to a community battling dehumanizing acts, unjust stereotypes, and systemic limitations. With victories like that of Hideki Matsuyama, the first male Japanese golfer ever to win a golf major and the first Asian-born champion of the Masters, doors can be opened to social change showing the positive relationship between sports and society. Hopefully this statement victory is one of many more to come from minorities performing in their respective leagues.