NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork)Hideki Matsuyama made history in Augusta on Sunday as the first Japanese man to win the Masters.

His triumph is a major source of pride and courage for his country during trying times, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Monday.

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Matsuyama, not known for showing emotion, tried to hold it together after realizing the magnitude of his victory. The 29-year-old became the first Japanese man to win a golf major, fulfilling a long-standing ambition for a country that loves the game.

“For five hours, I just sat in front of the TV and I never left,” said Mina Yoshigaki from Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Yoshigaki said she cried tears of happiness and wore her shirt adorned with the Masters logo in celebration the next day.

She’s followed Matsuyama ever since he finished as the lowest scoring amateur at his Masters debut 10 years ago.

“He’s very, very Japanese. Typical Japanese person, in a good way. He’s humble, he’s modest and he’s hardworking,” she said.

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In a sport that has historically been dominated by American and European players, Matsuyama’s victory set a bar for other Japanese athletes that anything is possible.

“This is a very exciting moment,” said Teruisa Shimizu from Edgewater.

For the small island nation, winning isn’t just a show of strength. Many are hoping the victory will ease anti-Asian rhetoric that has flared during the pandemic.

“Matsuyama could change the mindset of people who never probably had respect for someone from different culture,” Yoshigaki said.

Some Japanese Americans plan to fly back to Tokyo to watch Matsuyama compete in the summer Olympics. Some say he would be the perfect candidate to light the Olympic flame.

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CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team