In golf, it’s a tradition for a winning player’s caddie to grab the pin flag on the 72nd hole (the 18th hole of the course) after the tournament concludes so that the player or caddie can keep it as a memento of an important accomplishment.
That tradition continued on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club when Hideki Matsuyama won the 2021 Masters. However, Hideki Matsuyama’s caddie added a unique twist that will forever go down in Masters lore.
So much respect for Augusta. pic.twitter.com/lRyhMtNOlf
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 11, 2021
As Hideki Mastuyama was taking the walkway from the 18th green to scoring to make his Masters win official, his caddie, Shota Hayafuji, finished screwing off the pin flag. He then put the flagstick back in the cup. In a traditional Japanese sign of respect, Hayafuji took off his cap and bowed in the direction of the setting sun. While the post-round bow is common in Asian golf culture, Hayafuji created a lasting image that gave so many chills.
During Matsuyama’s news conference after his win, the newly minted major winner said he was particularly happy for Hayafuji because it was their first win working together.
“When the final putt went in, I really wasn’t thinking of anything,” Matsuyama said. “But then hugging [playing partner] Xander [Schauffele] — but then when I saw my caddie, Shota and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag. And then it started sinking in, the joy of being a Masters champion.”
Before winning the Masters, the last time Matsuyama won on the PGA Tour was at the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. He ended a streak of 1,344 days without a win on the PGA Tour.
Now, Hideki Matsuyama is forever a Masters champion.