AUGUSTA — Listen to that: Sunday cheers once more lifting a champion as he made the climb to the 18th green at Augusta National. Why, it almost sounded like the Masters again.

And not just any champion this Sunday, but a breakthrough one. With his one-stroke victory, Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese male to win one of his game’s big four major tournaments. Do they make a green jacket big enough to fit around the shoulders of an entire country?

So it was Sunday that the great Georgia golf tournament completed its green new deal with normalcy, signaling another lean in that direction.

Last year, everything was catawampus. While the members here do all that money and privilege can to ban the real world at the gates, the pandemic burst through. Last April’s Masters was postponed, and in its place came the first — and hopefully last — fall substitute.

Last year's Masters champion Dustin Johnson (left) presents Hideki Matsuyama with his green jacket after winning the 85th Masters Tournament Sunday, April 11, 2021, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)
Caption
Last year's Masters champion Dustin Johnson (left) presents Hideki Matsuyama with his green jacket after winning the 85th Masters Tournament Sunday, April 11, 2021, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

November’s champion, Dustin Johnson, won without fans in attendance, a cheerless compromise with the virus. With a fraction of the normal gallery allowed back in this week, they certified Matsuyama’s victory with their voices. Louder than November, certainly, but not as loud as next year. That is the promise that keeps nudging us forward.

At the close of the day, it was Johnson holding open a new green jacket for Matsuyama in the traditional, orderly transfer of golfing power. And through the filter of his translator, Matsuyama simply said, “I am very happy.”

This particular Sunday at the Masters will be known as the day Japan joined the company of major golfing champions. And remembered as a day when the world at large got a little more back on schedule. The Masters is spring again. And spring is once more the Masters’.