Hideki Matsuyama said he’s eager to return to Japan to help with earthquake relief after matching the lowest score by an amateur in six years at golf’s Masters Tournament.
Matsuyama, 19, tied 2010 Masters champion Phil Mickelson for 27th place at the first major championship of the year yesterday with a score of 1-under par.
Matsuyama joined winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa at the award ceremony near the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, to receive the silver trophy presented to the amateur with the best score.
“I hope my success here will bring some joy, happiness and hope to my fellow Japanese in a very difficult time,” Matsuyama said through an interpreter.
Matsuyama finished 13 shots behind Schwartzel, who won his first major title by two shots, and was the first amateur to make the cut for weekend play since 2005, when Ryan Moore also finished at 1-under par.
The Masters’ connection to amateur golf goes back to Augusta National co-founder Bob Jones, who won 13 of 21 major championships he entered as an amateur from 1923 to 1930.
Matsuyama said he got chills hearing the applause from fans as he walked up the 18th hole, where he finished with a birdie.
“I was so happy to hear that,” said Matsuyama, who qualified for Augusta as the 2010 Asian Amateur champion. “And also, that I was able to finish up with a birdie. That’s a great memory that I can take home.”
Matsuyama said he plans to return to Japan today to volunteer for relief work in Sendai, where he’s a freshman at Tohoku Fukushi University.
Matsuyama was training in Australia when a magnitude 9 earthquake struck Japan on March 11 and caused a tsunami that left more than 27,000 people dead or missing, according to Japan’s National Police Agency. Almost half of those dead or missing are from Miyagi prefecture, where Sendai is the capital.
Matsuyama said the disaster made him consider giving up his boyhood dream of playing in the Masters. He said he didn’t know what the volunteer work will entail.
“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do at this point but I know that my coach will tell all of the teams what kind of things that we can do together,” said Matsuyama.
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