Thank you

By Neil Connolly, in Sport, Golf · 16-04-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

It has been said for a long time that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and then sometimes you actually can’t find the right words to describe the picture, or the words don’t actually do the picture justice.

Nevertheless I’m going to have a try; the picture you see on this page is of Hideki Matsuyama’s caddy. He has just replaced the flag stick in the 18th hole, the world and his wife, and their cameras, are on Hideki and his reaction to becoming the 1st Japanese player to win a major championship, having carried the weight of all the expectations from his proud nation on his shoulders, for the last 10 years.

It is customary for the winning caddy or player to take the 18th hole flag as part of their memorabilia for the tournament, you can see that in the caddy’s left hand. He then took one small step to the left and bowed his head. Not to anybody in particular, to the golf course it looks like. That singular gesture went viral immediately and captured the hearts of any sporting onlooker, because it just encapsulates, in an understated way, the appreciation one individual has for a very special occasion.

For caddy, Shota Hayafuji, it was his first win with Matsuyama, but more importantly he had discharged his duty for the day and brought his man home as the winner. The bowing of his head could be taken as a huge debt of gratitude being repaid to the event, to the competitors, to the moment and the opportunity. It is not beyond the realms of probability that under his breath he was just saying a very humble ‘thank you’ for being and making a special piece of history for his nation.

A feeling that every onlooker can empathise with, as this looked like the Masters used to, fast greens, spring sunshine and the whole golf course looking like it’s been covered in an immaculate green blanket.

The grass never looks as green as it does at the Masters. It was great to be back and for the world to have some sense of order.

Something tells me that his reaction is going to be one of those pictures which is synonymous with some of the greatest moments Augusta has ever treated us to over the decades.

The Masters is special, it holds a very sacred part of the diary for the golfing population. It is the only tournament that is played on the same course, every year, so we get to know each bounce, each vista and that the tournament only starts for real on the back nine on Sunday.

Matsuyama didn’t have an easy back 9 either, Xander Shauffele was making a run at him, which made the last four holes decidedly nervy, definitely not the place where you want to be feeling a little bit jumpy.

He candidly admitted to the cameras, that he didn’t feel the customary nerves on the back 9, he said he felt them when he woke up in the morning, long before he his first tee shot. But he and his man got the job done, he finished on Sunday wearing the green jacket, and he has 12 months to enjoy being the Masters champion. He has the rest of his life to be an Augusta member.

Adam Scott, who took Matsuyama under his wing during his first Presidents Cup, said that the Japanese player is treated like Tiger Woods in Japan. He now has achieved more than any player before him from his country, I think he’s going to quickly find out what it’s like to be a superstar.

A superstar player with a very classy caddy.


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