With a feat of golf and weightlifting that ought to rate way up there among masteries of sports pressure, Hideki Matsuyama managed to win the 85th Masters on Sunday. He played the golf with dominance and then resilience, curbing his own near-crumble, and he did the weightlifting of the hopes of his sports-cherishing nation of 126 million without running off and hiding behind a pine tree, which might have been understandable.

The first men’s major title for Japan, a win of inestimable meaning for a country with feelings for golf that make reverence look puny, came after its 29-year-old hopeful refrained from panic when panic surely breathed through the Monday morning living rooms of his country’s 47 prefectures. In the genteel horror in which golf long has specialized, a yawning six-shot lead with seven holes to play at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club shrank all the way to two with three to play, in part because of Xander Schauffele’s four straight birdies and in part because Matsuyama’s approach at No. 15 went scurrying through the green and hurrying for a swim.

He bogeyed that, No. 16 and No. 18, but he launched steely drives on Nos. 17 and 18, and he performed his highbrow knack for scrambling from a greenside bunker on No. 18 with a 73 at 10 under par, one shot ahead of phenom Will Zalatoris and three ahead of Jordan Spieth and Schauffele, whose mounting hopes disintegrated on No. 16 with the first triple bogey of his 1,042 major golf holes. “My nerves really didn’t start on the second nine today,” Matsuyama said in Butler Cabin on the CBS telecast. “It was right from the start today and right to the very last putt.”

“I remember the feeling of a four-shot lead,” said Spieth, who never quite menaced, “and he’s got Japan on his back and maybe Asia on his back. I can’t imagine kind of how that was, trying to sleep on that, even with somebody who’s had so much success.”

“Man, he was something else,” Schauffele said. “He played like a winner needs to play.”

“My plan this morning was to wake up about 9:30,” Matsuyama said. “But needless to say, I rose much earlier than that and couldn’t go back to sleep.”

With the knock-in bogey putt that closed it, he drifted into some form of rare consciousness, trying to process that he had reached the perch that people long pegged for him when he was low amateur at the 2011 Masters and then won five PGA Tour events between 2014 and 2017, the last with a closing 61 at mighty Firestone in Akron, Ohio.

It followed upon 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani’s win the previous week in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and upon two LPGA major wins by Japanese women: Hisako Higuchi, who received a ticker-tape parade through Tokyo after she won the 1977 LPGA Championship, and Hinako Shibuno, who achieved the remarkable when she turned her first major appearance into a first major title at the 2019 Women’s British Open. It provided the Masters with a 12th winning nationality and men’s major golf with a second champion from Asia, following Y.E. Yang of South Korea holding off Tiger Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship. And it placed Matsuyama in the Japanese sports stratosphere, one of the world’s shiniest places, where he can mingle with Shohei Ohtani, Naomi Osaka and Yuzuru Hanyu.

And as Matsuyama looked forward and said, “With me doing it, hopefully it will set an example for [the youth of Japan] that it’s possible,” his win also got golf intellectuals looking back at the Japanese male golfers who had graced the game through bygone decades without quite snaring a summit. Those included 78-year-old Isao Aoki, the 1980 U.S. Open runner-up who forced Jack Nicklaus to earn the title; 66-year-old Tommy Nakajima, who finished in the top 10 in six majors between 1986 and 1991; 53-year-old Toshimitsu Izawa, who tied for fourth at the 2001 Masters; 51-year-old Shigeki Maruyama, who won thrice on the PGA Tour and finished fourth at the 2004 U.S. Open at brutal Shinnecock Hills; 48-year-old Shingo Katayama, who finished fourth at the 2009 Masters; the Ozaki brothers — Masashi (Jumbo), Tateo (Jet) and Naomichi (Joe), with Masashi finishing in a tied for eighth at the 1973 Masters — and the endearing Ryo Ishikawa, tabbed a phenom at 17 when he arrived at Riviera in Los Angeles in 2009 and said: “Hello, America. I’m Ryo Ishikawa from Japan.”

Any American reporter present at that last event might have gone summoned to Japanese TV for a viewpoint on the teen, an indication of the kind of pressure Matsuyama knew as he awakened Sunday at 11 under and four shots ahead of four chargers, the first male Japanese golfer to occupy that loft of expectations in a major. The lead quickly shrank to one when Matsuyama made a visit to the pines on the right of No. 1, foretelling a bogey, right around the same time a second birdie from Zalatoris dropped in on No. 2.

Of the four who began at 7 under, the steadiest challenge came from Zalatoris, a 24-year-old San Franciscan who played at Wake Forest, has skyrocketed from No. 2,006 at the end of 2018 to No. 46 now and played only his third major and his first Masters. “It was an absolute treat,” Zalatoris told reporters, “and obviously to come up one short and be disappointed is motivating but obviously very exciting.”

Matsuyama carefully upped his lead back to three shots before it narrowed to two. And then around 4:45 p.m. — or 5:45 a.m. where it mattered most — you could feel the world’s 11th-most-populous country lurk to the edge of joy. Zalatoris curled a par putt helplessly in front of the hole on No. 10, and Matsuyama followed a stunning second shot into No. 9 with a deserved birdie as his lead yawned to five with the front-runner at 13 under. That gave him birdies at Nos. 2, 8 and 9 after his bogey at No. 1, plus his par save on No. 5 from the fairway bunker when his 17-foot putt went screaming in.

By then, the chasers who began four shots behind Matsuyama — Justin Rose, Schauffele, Marc Leishman, Zalatoris — had been sailing sideways variously, and soon the lead reached six. The round had gone drained of suspense — mercifully for those watching on Tokyo Broadcasting System.

Golf, mean as hell as ever, would not allow them a tranquil Monday. Schauffele, a San Diegan who has finished in the top 10 of eight of his 15 majors, birdied Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15, the last of which featured a legitimate uh-oh from Matsuyama when his 4-iron from the fairway went for a hasty ride to the water behind the green. He wrung a bogey from his scrambling there.

Then he received a bogey and a gift on No. 16, when Schauffele free-fell out of contention by smacking a tee shot that grappled with the wind and teetered into the water, then hitting a third shot over the green to a spectator in a lawn chair.

Still, Zalatoris, with his fear level at zero and his future at infinite, rang in an 18-foot par on No. 18, leaving Matsuyama just two shots ahead at 11 under. Matsuyama would have to play Nos. 17 and 18 against himself, against the fresh horror and against the familiar weight — until the clock struck a happy 8 a.m. Monday in Japan and he had carried all of it, even as it had looked heavy.

— Chuck Culpepper

Hideki Matsuyama becomes first Japanese player to win Masters

11:05 p.m.
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Hideki Matsuyama has become the first Japanese player to win the Masters, and he is the first men’s player from his country to win any of golf’s majors.

Facing enormous pressure after building a four-shot lead after 54 holes, Matsuyama shot a 1-over round of 73 to win the tournament by one stroke over Will Zalatoris.

2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele were tied for third at 7 under. Schauffele got within two strokes of Matsuyama and was alone in second after the 15th hole, but he suffered a debacle at the 16th and fell off the chase with a triple bogey.

Zalatoris, 24, was bidding to become the first rookie to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. He went 2 under in his final round, including a birdie at 17 and an impressive par save at the 18th to keep the pressure on the 29-year-old Matsuyama.

The only other male Asian player to win a major was Y.E. Yang, who came from behind to beat Tiger Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship.

36-hole leader Justin Rose finishes at 5 under, six shots off lead

10:53 p.m.
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Justin Rose, who scorched Augusta on Thursday and held the first- and second-round leads, finished at 5 under after shooting a 2-over 74 Sunday. That left him in fifth place at the time, six shots behind leader Hideki Matsuyama.

Rose shot an opening round of 65 to take a four-shot lead over the field after 18 holes, and he was still up by one after 36. However, he was well overtaken by Matsuyama, who had his own four-shot lead after 54 holes.

Rose made a birdie on 18 Sunday to finish his 2021 Masters on something of a high note. Playing partner Marc Leishman finished at 6 under for the tournament, putting him in a tie with Jon Rahm for fourth place at the time.

Will Zalatoris finishes at 9 under, two shots behind Hideki Matsuyama

10:48 p.m.
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Masters rookie Will Zalatoris submitted a, well, masterful performance in his first final round at the tournament. The 24-year-old American shot a 2-under round of 70 to get to 9 under overall, and he put some serious heat on leader Hideki Matsuyama.

Zalatoris made a birdie on 17 and, just as impressively, got up and down with a clutch putt at 18 to save par and stay within two shots of the lead. Matsuyama was at 11 under but still had to face the pressure of playing 17 and 18.

Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth were tied for third at 7 under.

Xander Schauffele cuts into Hideki Matsuyama’s lead but gives it back and more

10:41 p.m.
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Hideki Matsuyama’s lead was down to just two strokes after he made a bogey at the 15th hole, while Xander Schauffele made a birdie. Then Schauffele gave it all back — and more — at the 16th.

Having gotten to within two of the Masters leader, Schauffele sent his tee shot at the par-3 16th hole into the water. His shot from a drop zone then went over the green and into a small crowd of spectators. He made a triple-bogey 6 at the hole, while Matsuyama made a bogey 4 to fall to 11 under.

Schauffele plunged from 10 under to 7 under and tied for third with Jordan Spieth. Will Zalatoris was suddenly alone in second place, at 9 under, after a birdie at the 17th.

Four strokes up after his drive on the par-5 15th, Matsuyama eschewed the option of laying up with his second shot. He instead chose a 4-iron but hit his approach low and long. The ball sailed over the green and ran into water, and Matsuyama had to take a drop. His chip then fell short of the green and he needed two putts to take a six.

Playing in the same group, Schauffele was in a greenside bunker after his second shot, and he nearly holed his shot from there. That turned into an easy birdie and two strokes gained on the leader, but the momentum came to a screeching halt with his next shot.

Hideki Matsuyama maintains large lead as Xander Schauffele is in second

10:06 p.m.
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Perhaps the greatest reflection of Hideki Matsuyama’s composure Sunday has not just been that he’s made only two bogeys under the pressure of keeping a large final-round lead at the Masters. It might be even more impressive that, in both cases, he has immediately followed those miscues with birdies.

Having bounced back right away after dropping a stroke on the first hole, Matsuyama did it again at the 13th. His birdie there brought him back to 13 under and gave him a four-stroke lead over Xander Schauffele.

Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris were pushed into a tie for third when Schauffele went to 8 under with a birdie at the 13th. He followed that with a birdie at the next hole to get to 9 under.

Schauffele is playing in the final group with Matsuyama and had a front-row seat to the Japanese star’s adventurous hole.

Matsuyama’s tee shot at the 13th flew well to the right of the fairway but hit a pine tree, and with a large smacking sound it bounced back out to an easily playable position. His second shot was also uncharacteristically loose but it also wound up in a relatively safe position behind the green. From there, Matsuyama did well to chip close to the hole and make his birdie putt.

Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele move into tie for second

9:41 p.m.
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Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele have reached 7 under, moving them into a tie for second with Will Zalatoris.

Spieth, who started the day in seventh place at 5 under, birdied holes 9, 10, 13 and 13. That came after he fell to 3 under with bogeys at 5 and 6. Schauffele has had an even more tumultuous round, having dropped from 8 under through two holes to 4 under through six. He then made birdies at 7, 11 and 12.

Schauffele, 27, is looking for his first win at a major, although Hideki Matsuyama remains five shots ahead. Schauffele has second-place finishes at the 2019 Masters and the 2018 British Open, along with a third-place showing at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Spieth, also 27, won the Masters in 2015, the same year he won the U.S. Open. He went on to take a British Open title in 2017.

Tony Finau, Corey Connors, Bernd Wiesberger having rough days

9:21 p.m.
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The final round of the Masters has not been kind to a trio of players who started the day able to at least conceive of winning the green jacket with a great round and a collapse of some kind by Hideki Matsuyama.

While the Japanese star has increased his lead over the field, Corey Conners, Tony Finau and Bernd Wiesberger have gone in the wrong direction by dropping a combined 12 strokes.

Wiesberger, who started the day at 2 under, has plummeted down the leader board and at 4 over through 14, he was just nine spots from the bottom among those who made the cut. Finau began the day at 3 under but made bogeys at 4, 11 and 12 to fall back to even. He bounced right back, however, with a birdie at 13, leaving him at 1 under with five holes to play.

Conners had the most realistic championship dreams, having gotten to 6 under through the first three rounds. The 29-year-old Canadian then reached 7 under after the second hole Sunday, but he played holes 5 through 8 at bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey to fall to 2 under.

Finau, 31, is considered among the best players on the PGA Tour who has never won a major. He has notched top-five finishes in all four Grand Slam events since 2018 but is far from contention on Sunday. At 13 under through 10 holes, Matsuyama has a six-shot lead on the field.

Hideki Matsuyama goes out in 34, now at 13 under

8:57 p.m.
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Hideki Matsuyama started the day with a four-shot lead over the field but gave cause for others to hope when he made bogey on the first hole of the final round. Since then, however, he has more than steadied the ship and now has a five-shot lead.

Seeking to become the first Masters winner from Japan, Matsuyama birdied the second, eighth and ninth holes to go out in 34 and get to 13 under for the tournament. Moments before he finished his front nine, Matsuyama’s closest pursuer, Will Zalatoris, bogeyed the 10th hole to fall back to 8 under.

Jon Rahm, who has finished his round, and Xander Schauffele are at 6 under, while Marc Leishman, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth are at 5 under.

Will Zalatoris gets back to 9 under, but Hideki Matsuyama gets to 12 under

8:41 p.m.
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The least experienced contender Sunday is making the most threatening run at Hideki Matsuyama, who has responded.

Will Zalatoris, playing in his first Masters, made birdie at the eighth hole to get back to 9 under and within two strokes of Hideki Matsuyama. He was two pairings ahead of the Japanese player, who proceeded to regain that three-shot bulge, at 12 under, when he got to 8.

Zalatoris started the day in a group of four players four back of Matsuyama at 7 under, but he quickly made a move with birdies at holes 1 and 2 before making a bogey at 3. At the eighth hole, he hit a terrific pitch onto the green, then drained a 10-foot putt. Zalatoris also made an impressive putt on the following hole, which he needed for a par.

The 24-year-old is playing as if he doesn’t realize he’s supposed to be nervous. With the closest pursuers at 6 under, he might be the only player left with a plausible shot at overtaking Matsuyama, and every indication is that he’s up for the challenge.

Xander Schauffele falls back as Hideki Matsuyama maintains his lead

8:00 p.m.
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Xander Schauffele entered the final round in a four-way tie for second place at 7 under. The 27-year-old American, still looking for his first major championship, birdied the second hole before making consecutive bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4. His struggles continued on the par-4 fifth hole, where he hit his tee shot into the pine straw and up against a bush that prevented him from taking a full backswing. Schauffele punched out with a 9-iron and then put his third shot into the greenside bunker. He ended up with a double bogey to fall to sixth place at 4 under.

Schauffele’s playing partner, Hideki Matsuyama, drained a par putt on No. 5 to remain at 11 under and three shots clear of Will Zalatoris, who moments earlier pushed a birdie putt left before tapping in for par on the seventh hole.

Jon Rahm continues his final round charge

7:29 p.m.
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Jon Rahm, who entered the day at even par, birdied the par-3 12th to move to 5 under for the tournament and into seventh place. The Spaniard has played a bogey-free round with three birdies and an eagle, and is one stroke ahead of Jordan Spieth, who is 1 over through five holes.

A little further down the leaderboard, Cameron Smith of Australia is 2 under through nine on the day and 3 under for the tournament, leaving him tied for ninth with American Brian Harman. Patrick Reed, Si Woo Kim and Tony Finau are tied for 11th at 2 under.

Hideki Matsuyama pushes lead back to three with birdie on No. 2

7:13 p.m.
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Will Zalatoris gave one back on the par-4 third hole, making bogey after consecutive birdies to fall back to 8 under. Leader Hideki Matsuyama made up for his bogey on No. 1 by making birdie on No. 2 after a terrific shot out of the bunker to get back to 11 under. Xander Schauffele, who entered Sunday in a four-way tie for second place at 7 under, also birdied the second hole to move to 8 under and into a tie for second.

Corey Conners of Canada sandwiched a birdie on No. 3 between a couple of pars to move into a tie for third with Marc Leishman and Justin Rose at 3 under.

Hideki Matsuyama begins his day with a bogey, sees lead cut to one shot

6:56 p.m.
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Hideki Matsuyama hit 26 of 42 fairways over the first three days and played the first bogey-free round of the tournament on Saturday, but the leader sprayed his tee shot on No. 1 Sunday right and into the trees. After a fine second shot out of the pine straw, Matsuyama left his ensuing chip well short of the hole. He ended up with bogey to fall to 10 under.

Meanwhile, Will Zalatoris has birdied his first two holes to move to 9 under and one shot back of the lead. Marc Leishman of Australia also opened his final round with a bogey to fall back into a tie for fifth at 6 under with Justin Rose.

Will Zalatoris opens final round with a birdie

6:42 p.m.
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Will Zalatoris, looking to become the first rookie to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, opened Sunday with a birdie on the par-4 first hole to move into sole possession of second place. The 24-year-old American is still three shots back of leader Hideki Matsuyama, who will tee off at 2:40 p.m. Eastern.

Coming off a win at the Valero Texas Open, 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth arrived at Augusta National as one of the favorites to win the green jacket. He entered the third round 5 under, six shots back of Matsuyama, needing a near perfect round to win his fourth major, but is off to a rough start. Spieth missed a short par putt on the first hole and tapped in for bogey to fall to 4 under.