Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura ended the opening round tied for the lead alongside Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The longstanding PGA Tour tournament turned into a team event in 2017, with the first and third rounds consisting of four-ball where everyone plays their own shot and the best score counts. The second and fourth rounds feature foursome play or alternate shot.

On Thursday, after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hovland-Ventura and Garnett-Stallings moved a stroke clear atop the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana.

Both teams carded bogey-free 10-under-par 62s, ahead of Cameron Champ-Tony Finau, Billy Horschel-Sam Burns, Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele, Lee Kyoung-hoon-Kyle Stanley, Mark Hubbard-Sebastian Cappelen, Louis Oosthuizen-Charl Schwartzel and March Leishman-Cameron Smith.

Xander Schauffele, who threatened to break through for his maiden major title at the Masters, and Patrick Cantlay are eight under heading into the second round, along with Bubba Watson-Scottie Scheffler.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer opened their bid for back-to-back titles with a 65 to earn a share of 16th position, three strokes off the pace, while Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson are also seven under.

Stewart Cink cruised to a four-stroke victory as he clinched his third RBC Heritage crown on Sunday.

Winner of the PGA Tour tournament in 2000 and 2004, Cink completed the treble after carding a one-under-par 70 in the final round.

Cink had two birdies and a bogey to finish 19 under, ahead of countryman Harold Varner III (66) and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (68).

It capped a memorable week for Cink at Habour Town, where the American set the lowest 36- and 54-hole score at the RBC Heritage of 126 and 195 respectively, en route to glory.

"I don't even know if I have the words," Cink said after having his son Reagan as his caddie.

Cink became the seventh player to go 21 years or longer between his first and most recent victory at the same event on Tour.

With the triumph, Cink also became the fourth player (fifth instance) aged 47 or older to win multiple times in a season on Tour since 1960, joining Sam Snead, Julius Boros and Kenny Price (twice), after taking out the Safeway Open.

Aged 47 years, 10 months and 28 days, Cink is also the second oldest RBC Heritage champion following Hale Irwin (48 years, 10 months and 14 days in 1994).

Webb Simpson, who was the defending champion, finished tied for ninth and eight shots off the pace following a final-round 70, while world number one Dustin Johnson (66) was a stroke further back.

"I just feel like I made way too many mistakes," said Johnson, who missed the Masters cut. "Around here, you make mistakes, they penalise you pretty big."

John Catlin defeated Maximilian Kieffer in a play-off to win the Austrian Open after a thrilling final round on Sunday.

Kieffer looked to be in charge at the Diamond Country Club in Vienna after going to six under for the day by the eighth hole, but he was unable to keep up that momentum and Catlin took advantage.

Catlin had been two shots off the lead at the start of his round and Kieffer's impressive early form had the American four back at one point.

Kieffer's first bogey just before the turn gave Catlin extra encouragement in what had developed into something of a two-horse race, and a remarkable 25-foot putt at the 11th had the lead down to just one shot.

Catlin then found the hole from 30 feet on the 14th to take the lead after Kieffer had bogeyed the 11th, though their positions switched again briefly before they finished their respective rounds level.

After a tense duel in the first few holes of the play-off, Kieffer found water three times on the fifth to gift Catlin the initiative despite him finding a bunker.

He took full advantage and sealed his third European Tour title in eight months, though Catlin expressed some sympathy with Kieffer's struggles at the end.

"It's always tough to watch that happen," Catlin said. "We're out here giving it our all, he's obviously a very, very accomplished player and to come out on top is something I will always cherish."

Victory for Catlin could be enough to see him break into the top 80 for the first time, though he has no plans to stop there.

"I'd love to crack that top 50 in the world," he added. "Just get a chance to play in some major championships - I've actually never played in a major.

"I'm thinking this gives me a very good chance to play in the US PGA Championship, that was kind of my goal.

"Hopefully it's good enough and to get into those events and to have the chance to win a major, that's been my goal since I was a kid.

"Winning is never easy, it doesn't matter what tour you're playing on and to have gotten this one is definitely something special."

Two-time major champion Martin Kaymer shared the lead with Alejandro Canizares ahead of Sunday's final round and ultimately finished third, three shots behind the top two on 11 under for the tournament.

The German's title tilt fell apart on the front nine as he reached the turn at two over par, owing partly to a nightmarish double-bogey on the third hole.

But he still managed to card a two-under 70 as he enjoyed a blemish-free back nine.

Stewart Cink broke another record as he maintained his five-shot lead at the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage to remain on track for his third title at Harbour Town Golf Links.

The 47-year-old 2000 and 2004 RBC Heritage champion carded a two-under 69 to set another record for lowest 54 holes with an 18-under 195.

Cink had broken Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson's 36-hole 129 mark after back-to-back 63s on the opening two days.

The American held a five-shot lead after day two but bogeyed on the third on Saturday before successive birdies on a steady round where he preserved his advantage.

Cink has a two for 12 record in closing out final day leads on the PGA Tour but said he would embrace the challenge.

“I've certainly been nervous and thrown up on myself and I've also played great in that situation," Cink said.

"You know, I think it's a lot better to embrace it and enjoy it and feel the tingle as opposed to trying to act like it's not there.”

World number four Collin Morikawa moved into second with a four-under 67 to be 13-under, one shot ahead of Argentine Emiliano Grillo.

Canadian Corey Conners had been second but slipped to equal sixth after carding a one-over round of 72.

Day one leader Cameron Smith continued to slide with a three-over 74, while last week's Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot 71 to be off the pace.

Englishman Matt Wallace and American Webb Simpson were the movers, with rounds of 65 and 64 seeing them both climb up to equal fourth and sixth respectively.

Stewart Cink made history after moving five shots clear in his pursuit of a third RBC Heritage title.

Two-time champion Cink carded a second successive 63 to set the 36-hole record at Harbour Town on Friday.

Cink sits at 16-under 126, five strokes ahead of Corey Conners – eclipsing the previous best midway score of 129 set by Phil Mickelson (2002) and Jack Nicklaus (1975).

The 47-year-old Cink also became the oldest player to hole the 36-hole lead at the RBC Heritage – his last 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour was at the 2008 Travelers Championship.

Cink has catapulted himself to the top of the leaderboard alongside his son and caddie, Reagan.

"He's not just my son caddying, he's a professional caddie doing an excellent job," he said. "He could caddie for any player in the world right now."

Canadian Conners posted a seven-under-par 64 to be outright second, a stroke ahead of Emiliano Grillo (64) heading into the weekend, while overnight leader Cameron Smith (71) fell seven shots behind.

"I think the golfing gods got a few back on me today," Australian Smith said.

Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot a four-under-par 67 to be tied for 11th position, nine strokes adrift of Cink.

World number one Dustin Johnson climbed 27th spots following a second-round 67 as he sits 11 shots back.

Defending champion Webb Simpson, meanwhile, is three under at the half-way stage after his 68.

Hideki Matsuyama's history-making Masters triumph has changed the face of golf, according to the 29-year-old's former caddie.

Matsuyama claimed the famous green jacket on Sunday, becoming the first Japanese man to win a major tournament in the process.

His victory came in thrilling fashion, Matsuyama seeing off competition from Will Zalatoris, Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele to finish 10 under par at Augusta.

Before Matsuyama's achievement, female stars Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) were Japan's previous golf major winners.

Daisuke Shindo caddied for Matsuyama between 2013 and 2018, and he believes Matsuyama's win will lead to a change in the sport not only in Asia, but across the globe.

"He has made history, not only in Japan but also Asia and the world. I think it was a moment that changed the world of golf. I think it was such a great achievement," Shindo told Stats Perform News.

"I think that is huge. We grew up watching Tiger Woods when we were young. I grew up watching Jumbo Ozaki and Shigeki Maruyama. I still admire them now.

"I think it was a great inspiration for all the children who saw Hideki win the Masters, and not only the children but also the professional golfers.

"I think Hideki's victory had a great impact on people who don't play golf. For the past a couple of days, I've been hearing 'golf, golf' anywhere all over town. It's amazing. I've never heard ordinary young people talking about golf. I think it's amazing."

Shindo also backed Matsuyama to win another major this year, as he believes his ex-university classmate has finally delivered on his promise after previously managing five PGA Tour wins.

"Every player is really hard on themselves. That's why they keep the position as top athletes," Shindo added.

"But if you're too hard on yourself, you're not going to be able to relax and you're going to get frustrated. Golf is a sport [in] which you have to accept mistakes, but it's very important to find a balance. I think Matsuyama accepted his mistakes this time and played golf in a very positive way.

"Even in a tough situation, he didn't panic, and even when the flow of the game was bad, he was always patient. He didn't look frustrated, he wasn’t shaken at all and looked calm.

"I still play golf and have dinner with Hideki when he comes back to Japan. We are more like brothers in arms than former partners.

"I was really happy. I saw how he was always fighting, with all the pressure from Japanese supporters. At the moment Hideki was finally rewarded, I really cried."

One certain way to cement golf's growing popularity in Japan would be with a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, with Shindo foreseeing a rise to world number one.

"I think it has boosted the confidence of not just Matsuyama but all the members of 'Team Matsuyama'," Shindo said.

"It's a great way to build momentum as a team. Now Hideki has that confidence. I think the team will be strong when that happens. I am confident that he will win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

"For Hideki, it's better for him to have a little pressure. He is such a strong and big guy. I think he's going to do well at the Olympics and he's going to be number one in the world ranking.

"When I was on tour with him, his highest ranking was two, but I think he will rise to number one."

Gary Player believes Tiger Woods will never win another major or be "a real force again" in golf.

Fifteen-time major winner Woods is recovering at his Florida home after the car crash in Los Angeles that saw him suffer severe leg injuries.

The 45-year-old hopes to return to competition, but the day that happens is a long way off.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff said Woods was driving at over 80 miles per hour in a 45mph zone on February 23 when he lost control of his Genesis SUV and came off the road, hitting a tree. He was said on the day of the crash to have been fortunate to survive the impact.

Player, who won nine majors in his own storied career, says it is hard to see Woods reviving the all-conquering game that brought him so much glory.

However, he expects the American superstar, who has battled back problems over the last seven years, to play again.

"Oh yes, my answer is emphatically yes," Player told Stats Perform News. "Yes, I do believe he will come back, and I do believe he will play in tournaments, but I don't believe he will win another major.

"He is getting on in age. Yes, I won the Masters at 42, [Jack] Nicklaus won it at 46, but he has been playing with a bad back. He has had four or five operations on his back - it's fused. He's had knee problems, he has had so many problems and eventually they can wear you down."

Woods has also spoken in the past of a "sleep disorder", and South African all-time great Player pointed to that as another possible factor that makes it improbable the former world number one will rise to the top of the game once more.

"So I don't think he will ever come out and be a real force again, but I hope I'm wrong," Player said. "I pray I am wrong, but that is just my opinion.

"I am not being naive and I am not being arrogant in my opinion - according to doctors, some doctors say he won't, some doctors say he will - but the will of a man is more important than a doctor's opinion sometimes."

Player, 85, is one of only five players, along with Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, to have won golf's modern career Grand Slam by triumphing at each of the Masters, Open Championship, US PGA Championship and U.S. Open.

He said he missed Woods "terribly" during the recent Masters week.

"I can only tell you at the Masters dinner, with 33 champions in the room, it was brought up and everybody said, 'hear, hear', how much we miss Tiger and we hope he'll be back soon," Player said.

"To the contrary, most people say he will never play again, I know in my heart... Tiger Woods is a special man. He will come back and play the tournament again."

Cameron Smith carded a nine-under-par 62 to set the early pace by one stroke after the first round of the RBC Heritage.

Australian golfer Smith turned in a bogey-free round at Harbour Town on Thursday for the lowest score of his PGA Tour career.

The 2020 Masters runner-up birdied three of the last four holes, just missing an eagle at the last when his approach shot missed the hole by inches. 

Smith finished with nine birdies in the opening round, tying his career record for most birdies in a single round on Tour.

"Everything just came together," Smith told reporters. "It was a great day on the green. I was hitting my irons really good. I had lots of good looks, and I just took advantage of them."

Smith's score matched the lowest opening round in tournament history, joining Davis Love III in 2002 and Peter Lonard three years later. 

The 27-year-old has two career PGA Tour titles, the most recent in January 2020 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. 

"I just feel really comfortable," Smith said. "Mentally I feel very free out there. I feel like I can hit the shot that I need to hit and going ahead and trying to execute it. I just feel like every shot I'm hitting, I'm putting 100 per cent into it, and on a day like today, it's really rewarding."

Two-time champion Stewart Cink started early and was the clubhouse leader with a 63 before Smith's torrid closing stretch left him second on the leaderboard. 

Cink's score on Thursday was the American veteran's best in 75 career rounds at Harbour Town. 

"A round like this doesn't show you there is more out there," Cink said. "A round like this shows you what you're doing is already dead on, and why change anything?"

Matt Wallace and Collin Morikawa are three shots back at six under, followed by Charles Howell III, Billy Horschel and Harold Varner III – who are a stroke further adrift.

Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot a three-under-par 68, while world number one Dustin Johnson ended the day eight shots off the pace.

Defending champion Webb Simpson opened his bid for back-to-back titles with a first-round 71, leaving him tied for 67th. 

Genzebe Dibaba believes it would be a more comfortable experience at the Tokyo Games if athletes are vaccinated against coronavirus and is confident organisers will do all they can to protect competitors at the Olympics.

Wednesday marks 100 days until the Games are due to begin in the Japanese capital, a year later than planned after the original dates in 2020 were scuppered by the pandemic.

The health crisis continues to cause issues for nations across the globe but the message from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has thus far been that the show will go on.

While international fans are banned from attending, and social-distancing measures, track-and-trace systems and temperature checks will be enforced, a vaccination against COVID-19 will not be a pre-requisite to participate in Tokyo.

Middle and long-distance runner Dibaba, a silver medallist in the 1500 metres at Rio 2016 and the world record holder over that distance, thinks athletes should have a jab for the Games.

"Yes, I think it's safe and more comfortable to manage, to meet with the other athletes," Dibaba told Stats Perform News.

"[I think it's] better to take the vaccine."

As part of the solutions to try and prevent transmission of the virus at the Games, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have come up with 'Playbooks' for athletes, officials and the media to follow – which includes having to complete an activity book outlining plans while in the city.

Regular testing will also be enforced, with athletes being checked every four days, and Dibaba acknowledged organisers are doing what they can to put on a safe Games.

"It's hard to feel safe because it's a virus and you can get it at any minute," she added.

"But since it's the Olympics, I know they will do everything they can to protect us."

Dibaba spoke about the difficulties athletes have faced in training for an Olympics facing so much uncertainty.

But the Ethiopian – a world champion in 2015 – is still focused on moving up a step on the podium in Tokyo, even if she feels a crack at breaking her own 1500m world record may have to wait a little while.

"For now I'm getting ready for the Olympics, not for the record," Dibaba said. 

"It's a race, since it's a record anyone can break it if they work hard. If they go for the record I will be there. 

"If not I'm just working for the Olympic Games, not for the record. After the Olympics, I promise you I will try one more time that I will go for the record."

Hideki Matsuyama's maiden major triumph has elevated golf to a new level, according to Gary Player.

Matsuyama entered the history books as he became the first Japanese man to prevail at a major after winning The Masters on Sunday.

The 29-year-old, with five PGA Tour titles under his belt prior to his Augusta triumph, held his nerve to win by one shot and claim the famed green jacket.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

Having clocked up seven top-10 finishes across golf's four headline tournaments, Matsuyama catapulted himself into esteemed company with his Georgia glory and Player, a nine-time major winner, knows there is a huge gap between winners and also-rans. 

And he feels Matsuyama's success has taken the sport "up a notch".

"Now you see there are lots of ifs and ands, but finishing second, only your wife and your dog knows about it – that's if you've got a good dog," the South African, who donned the green jacket three times, told Stats Perform News.

"So now he comes along and he wins the Masters in great style and I said to him, 'I'm very happy that you won because you can be president or prime minister of Japan and I won't need a visa!'.

"No, his play was exemplary, he kept his cool, and what wins golf tournaments is not long driving as we are brainwashed about, it's the putter and the mind.

"I'm so happy he won because I want to see people win golf tournaments where golf is going to be the benefactor.

"More clubs will be sold around the world now and golf went up a notch. I always wanted to have the best world record as a global golfer, not just in America only, so for me to see an international player win, I'm always happy to see anybody win but it's going to do golf so much good. I can't tell you.

"If this wasn't during COVID you would have had people flying over from Japan the night before, the press people. He would have had 60 representatives of the media in Japan because they've been thirsting and hungry and starved for a major championship winner. And a golfing nation of that status has been deprived of that, and there they've got it at last. Thank goodness."

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama said he admirers countrymen and MLB stars Yu Darvish, Kenta Maeda and Shohei Ohtani after becoming the first Japanese man to win a major.

Matsuyama made history with his one-stroke victory ahead of Will Zalatoris in a tense finale at Augusta on Sunday.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Zalatoris (70) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he carded a final-round 73 to claim the green jacket.

Matsuyama was asked about his golfing heroes after the memorable achievement, but the 29-year-old instead listed his baseball idols – Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Ohtani, four-time All-Star and San Diego Padres ace Darvish and Minnesota Twins pitcher Maeda.

"You know, the people that I admired were a lot -- were mainly baseball players: Darvish, Ohtani, Maeda," Matsuyama told reporters.

"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."

"It's been a struggle recently," added Matsuyama, who had last won on the PGA Tour in 2017. "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."

Matsuyama (2011) – who finished 10 under – became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

With his final-round 73, Matsuyama became the eighth player (nine instances) to claim The Masters despite an over-par final round – Trevor Immelman was the last to do so in 2008.

It came after Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, before his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Jordan Spieth – four shots behind.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

"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," Matsuyama said as he discussed his approach on the 15th and 16th holes. "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."

"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," Matsuyama said when asked if he is the greatest male golfer out of Japan following his success.

Will Zalatoris was frustrated to have finished second at The Masters, but the Augusta debutant basked in his "dream" week at the iconic major.

Zalatoris did not look out of place in his rookie Masters appearance, the 24-year-old earning the runners-up cheque, just a stroke behind history-making champion Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday.

Tied for sixth at last year's U.S. Open, Zalatoris – who had no status when the 2020-21 PGA Tour started in September as the coronavirus pandemic meant there was no Qualifying Tournament for the developmental Korn Ferry Tour in 2020 – catapulted himself into Masters contention.

Attempting to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win his Masters debut, Zalatoris carded a two-under-par 70 in the final round, which included five birdies and three bogeys.

Zalatoris, who now has six top-10 and 11 top-25 finishes in his 15 Tour starts this season, said: "Absolute dream. To be in a situation, I've been dreaming about it for 20 years.

"I thought I did a really good job this week of just enjoying the moment, but not letting it get to me. I think I kind of let everything soak in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then back to work on Thursday.

"So it was an absolute treat, and obviously to come up one short and be disappointed is motivating but obviously very exciting."

Zalatoris – the only player to shoot under par in all four rounds at this year's Masters – said: "I think the fact that I'm frustrated I finished second in my third major says something, and the fact that I didn't let any moment really get to me, was really exciting.

"And obviously my two majors as a pro, I finished sixth and runner-up. I know if I keep doing what I doing, I'm going to have a really good chance in the future."

"I've wanted to be on this stage for forever, for basically my entire life. So I think, if anything, it's like you finally get to this moment, and why shy away now? I've gotten here. So let's go do some damage. It was a fun week," Zalatoris continued.

"I can play with the best players in the world."

Xander Schauffele has no regrets after a rare triple-bogey ended his Masters hopes in another close call at a major tournament.

Schauffele – runner-up at the 2019 Masters and 2018 Open Championship, having also finished third at the U.S. Open almost two years ago – had to settle for a share of third position alongside Jordan Spieth on Sunday.

The former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year closed within two shots of eventual champion Hideki Matsuyama before losing his way on the 16th hole at Augusta, where he ended up finishing four strokes adrift.

A run of four consecutive birdies heaped pressure on Matsuyama, but Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee – found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

An ill-timed triple-bogey sent Schauffele down to equal third – it was his first triple-bogey in a major championship, a run of 1,042 holes.

"I hit a perfect eight iron. It was 184 yards. I can hit my eight iron 180 yards out here," Schauffele said when asked about the 16th tee. "I turned it right to left. The wind was into left to right. It got smoked and eaten up. You could kind of see it. The ball hovered there.

"So I was chasing. I was still two back. Hideki is a great left to right iron player. I figured, if I hit it close, he was going to hit it right on top. I was in full chase mode, so I have no regrets from that aspect."

Schauffele added: "I never gave up. It was pretty wild. Kind of a weird start. It almost took the edge off.  I knew the first through five, if you could be even par, it would be a really good score. I imagined to play five the way I did all week, which is five-over for the week or even worse.

"I fought hard. I felt like I made it exciting at the end, hit a really good shot on 16. I committed to it. I hit a perfect shot. We thought it was down left to right. It was not down left to right, and the rest is history."

After his latest close call, Schauffele said: "It's another lesson to put in the memory bank. 2019, I had a rookie hiccup moment of, oh, my goodness, I'm leading the Masters. This year I was chasing. I'm playing better than I was in 2019, and I made a mistake on shot selection and wind.

"If you look at my second shot after I dropped, I hit a nine iron that went downwind. I think the way that thing flew, it flattened out and flew 160 yards. Austin and I just kind of painfully laughed at each other and said, 'Well, I guess it switched again'. It is what it is. I think I just need to hit a different shot in there."

"It's hard to win out here," the 27-year-old said. "Especially at this tournament. I think I'll throw 16 in the memory bank. I think a lot of great shots into 16 are left to right. High cuts into that mound. I've been hitting a good high cut all week. I just didn't think of it at that time. I hit like a hard draw eight-iron, and it wasn't the shot.

"Moving forward, just kind of throw it in the memory bank. I'm going to keep collecting thoughts. Hopefully, I keep coming back here for years to come, and the goal is to win one day."

Hideki Matsuyama hopes his history-making Masters triumph will pave the way for more Japanese success among men.

Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta on Sunday.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Will Zalatoris (70) to complete a memorable performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

After replicating the major success of countrywomen Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) on the men's circuit, Matsuyama said: "Hopefully I'll be a pioneer in this and many other Japanese will follow.

"I'm glad to be able to open the floodgates hopefully, and many more will follow me."

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

"My nerves really didn't start on the second nine," Matsuyama said. "It was right from the start today. Right to the very last putt."

With his final-round 73, Matsuyama became the eighth player (nine instances) to claim The Masters despite an over-par final round – Trevor Immelman was the last to do so in 2008.

Asked what moment he realised he was going to win The Masters, the 29-year-old added: "Hitting the fairway with my tee shot at 18."

Hideki Matsuyama's breakthrough Masters triumph will "impact the entire golf world", according to 15-time major champion Tiger Woods.

Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta on Sunday.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Will Zalatoris (70) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

Five-time Masters champion and American superstar Woods – who is recovering after a near-fatal single-car collision in February – congratulated the 29-year-old Matsuyama via social media.

"Making Japan proud Hideki. Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment for you and your country," Woods wrote on Twitter.

"This historic Masters win will impact the entire golf world."

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

It was Schauffele's first triple-bogey in a major championship – a run of 1,042 holes.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

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