Masters: 5 Things We Learned in the final round

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Hideki Matsuyama made history Sunday in his 10th Masters appearance, claiming a one-shot victory in the 85th Masters Tournament. He’s the first Japanese man to win a major championship.

Matsuyama shot 73 in the final round. He built a five-shot lead early in the second nine and withstood a charge from Xander Schauffele to become the ninth different person to win the Masters in as many years.

Here are five things we learned in the final round.

Matsuyama's moment

Masters Tournament

Hideki Matsuyama plays his shot from the third tee during the third round of the 2021 Masters Tournament. (Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

Elite iron play, scrambling and par-5 dominance fueled Hideki Matsuyama’s victory in the 2021 Masters. The 29-year-old hit 69.44 percent of the greens in regulation for the tournament, tying for seventh in an area imperative to taming Augusta National. Perhaps more impressive was his extraordinary ability around the greens, another trait shared by Masters champions. Matsuyama missed 22 greens and saved par 16 times. His scrambling percentage (72.7 percent) was second in the field. Continuing another champions’ trend, Matsuyama was 11-under on the 16 par 5s he played in the tournament, making six birdies and three eagles. He avoided making a double bogey or worse on any hole and had only one six on his scorecard in 72 holes.

Spieth's story

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth line up a shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the 2021 Masters Tournament. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)

In the months prior to the Masters, the 2015 champion Jordan Spieth showed steady improvement in his ballstriking, culminating with a victory last week in the Valero Texas Open. Spieth’s pinpoint iron play continued this week, propelling him to a fifth top-3 finish in eight Masters appearances. Spieth led the field in greens in regulation (77.8 percent) and shot 7-under 281. His shot at a second green jacket faded away on the slippery Augusta National greens. Spieth ranked 51st in the field on putts of 5-to-10 feet, sinking 8 of 21 (38 percent). Despite those missed opportunities, Spieth improved to 50-under in his Masters career.

Fearsome fifth

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson prepares to hit on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2021 Masters Tournament on Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

For the third year in a row, No. 5 was the most difficult hole in the Masters. Renovated by architect Tom Fazio prior to the 2019 Masters and lengthened by 40 yards, the 495-yard par 4 delivers a solid punch in the heart of the front nine. There were only seven birdies at the fifth in four rounds and the hole generated a 4.431 stroke average - the highest in the three-year period. The field was 122-over par, suffering 12 double bogeys and two others. Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was 1-over on No. 5, saving a key par Sunday by draining a 17-foot putt.

Ridiculous rookie

Will Zalatoris

Will Zalatoris walks across the Sarazen Bridge during a practice round for the 2021 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)

Will Zalatoris, the 24-year-old Masters rookie, showed a full array of skills in posting four subpar rounds and finishing as runner-up. The former Wake Forest star finished in the top 15 in greens in regulation, putting and scrambling. Of the five players who began the final round within five shots of the lead, Zalatoris was the only one to break par, opening with consecutive birdies and converting a 6-foot putt on the 17th to pull within two shots of Matsuyama. Zalatoris climbed inside the top 30 in the world with his finish and is guaranteed a spot in the 2022 Masters.

Schauffele's slip-ups

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele bites his club after taking his second tee shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Masters Tournament on Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)

Schauffele, who recorded his fourth top-3 finish in a major championship and second at the Masters, was second in the field in par breakers, making birdie or better on 20 of 72 holes (27.8 percent). Only the Masters rookie Robert MacIntyre had a higher percentage. Schauffele’s third-round 68 was one of only nine sub-70 rounds on the weekend. What ruined him were big numbers on the fifth and 16th holes on Sunday. He found trouble off the tee on 5 and scrambled for a double bogey. Trailing by two shots on the 16th tee, his tee shot landed in the water he suffered a triple bogey. Prior to that mistake, Schauffele was 3 under on the par 3s for the tournament.