Japan's Prime Minister awarded Matsuyama on Friday after he won the Green Jacket at the Masters
Hideki Matsuyama Receives Japan’s Prime Minister’s Award
This past fortnight Matsuyama has quarantined in his home country, patiently waiting to celebrate his victory with the nation.
However, on the day of Matsuyama’s exit from self-isolation, the Japanese Government announced that he would be receiving the prestigious award from Yoshihide Suga.
Matsuyama becomes the 34th individual recipient of the award, though not the first golfer.
Ayako Okamoto also received the award in 1987 after winning four LPGA titles and achieving top five finishes in all Majors that season.
Matsuyama also joins Tiger Woods among players recognised by their governments for their golfing ability.
Woods won the Presidential Medal of Freedom following his 2019 Masters win, replicated by Matsuyama and Japan’s equivalent this year.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated: “Amid the prolonged coronavirus crises, he gave courage to and touched and the hearts of everyone across Japan”.
The 29-year-old’s Masters victory makes him the third Japanese player to win a Major championship, after female players Hinako Shibuno and Hisako ‘Chako’ Higuchi.
Shibuno won the 2010 Women’s British Open, while Higuchi won the 1977 LPGA Championship.
However, picking up the Green Jacket meant Matsuyama became his country’s first male winner of a Major championship.
Following his Masters win, Matsuyama said: “Hopefully I’ll be a pioneer in this and many other Japanese will follow.”
Matsuyama received the award on Friday, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobo Kato also crediting his Low Amateur honours at Augusta a decade ago.
With Japan suffering from the 2011 tsunami, university student Matsuyama inspired the nation after winning the Masters’ Silver Cup.
Prior to the Masters win, he had won three PGA Tour tournaments and two World Golf Championships since that standout amateur performance.
The Japanese star is set to return to action at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina on May 6.
Matsuyama has played the Wells Fargo Championship five times before, with his best finish T11 in 2016.
However, he did finish T5 at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
The next three months will see Matsuyama fighting for all three Majors, though his main focus is this summer’s Olympics.
“Right now, I just plan to be careful and try and avoid any injuries in the tournaments I have left to play before the Olympics, and then go there and win a Gold Medal.
“That’s my goal,” he added, “and I’ll do my best to accomplish it.”
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