Matsuyama to be honoured with Prime Minister’s Award

It was a victory to stop a nation and now Japan will recognise one of its greatest sporting achievements with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama to be presented with the Prime Ministers Award later this week.

The 29-year-old Matsuyama not only brought Japan to standstill but he endeared himself to sports fans the world over in capturing the 2021 Masters by one shot over Will Zalatoris.

Hideki Matsuyama Hideki Matsuyama (Credit: PGA Tour)

Matsuyama became the first Japanese-born male to win the Masters and also the first ever to capture a major championship.

The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will present the award on Friday.

Prime Minister Suga had been among the first in Japan to lead the tributes to Matsuyama saying: “Amid the prolonged coronavirus crisis, he gave courage to and touched the hearts of everyone across Japan.”

And in a press conference Tuesday to confirm the award, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato noted it’s not just Matsuyama’s Augusta National members green jacket that has made him a national icon.

Kato said Matsuyama had given hope to people in areas affected by the horrific March 2011 earthquake and tsunami by winning the ‘Low Amateur’ honours at Augusta National shortly after the disaster and now he again ‘gave them great courage with his victory’ 10-years after the catastrophe and amid COVID-19, which has sent some parts of the country into lockdown again.

Matsuyama will be the 34th Japanese native to receive this award but not the first golfer.

That designation belongs to Ayako Okamoto, who was honoured in 1987 for winning four LPGA titles and finishing in the top five in every major that season.