From The Inbox

Hideki Matsuyama speaks human language of respect fluently

Matsuyama plays for his country regularly, shows class and wins with a quiet dignity, prompting reader to ask: What’s not to like?

I woke up with Monday’s Morning Read, ready to peruse the post-Masters press, only to see a letter from reader Bob Ractliffe asking why hasn’t 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama “learned to speak English after playing here for 10 years?” (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 12).

Ractliffe goes on to compare Matsuyama to “fellow Asian female golfers,” then proclaim himself not to be a “racist” because his sister-in-law is Japanese and their children have married women of different national mixes … and “they all speak English fluently.” Perhaps the letter writer isn’t a racist, but instead merely doltish, daft or just plain American nativist.

The U.S. golf media have long understood that Matsuyama is an intensely shy, introverted and private man. Unlike some of the outsized egos found on the PGA Tour, Matsuyama is known for his general reticence toward the press, yet uniformly polite and respectful. Although the man has a generally quiet demeanor, he's well-liked and respected by his peers, and his game does most of the talking for him. Frankly, that’s all that matters (“Take a bow, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama,” April 12)

Matsuyama long has traveled the U.S. tour with a close older friend, Bob Turner, who plays multiple roles, from interpreter to travel agent, and apparently is quite comfortable with that dynamic. A bashful and reserved person, even with winning such a prestigious major tournament, Matsuyama doesn’t owe any golf fans any linguistic test whatsoever. Asking for, or expecting, one reflects little more than a nativist insularity. He excitedly chooses to play for his country at every turn, which is more than we can say for some U.S. stars on the PGA Tour. All we need to know is that he’s a proven winner, and a classy one at that.

Steven Lapper
Far Hills, N.J.
(Lapper is a co-owner of Fox Hollow Golf Club in Branchburg, N.J.)

Speak up, Matsuyama, and in English
I sure do agree with Bob Ractliffe, that Hideki Matsuyama should learn at least enough English to get by (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 12).

How refreshing it would have been to hear him try to say more than “Thank you” when he was interviewed Sunday after winning the Masters. The viewers would have given him a pass on perfection, just to hear him trying. But speaking only through an interpreter made it seem as if it were a U.S. dollar grab and that’s all winning in America means to him.

Lou Body IV
Jacksonville, Fla.

A rebuke, in any language
Reader Bob Ractliffe asks why shouldn't Hideki Matsuyama learn English (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 12).

Well, why should he? For Ractliffe's convenience? Why would that be a concern of Ractliffe’s? It seems akin to asking everyone in the world to speak Ractliffe’s language. And that suggests that the issue is a concern for Ractliffe and not Matsuyama at all.

It is in the same ballpark as everyone should worship my god the way I do and everyone should have the same color skin as I do.

“Lest you think me to be racist …,” Ractliffe writes, but he does lead me to think that he is racist, and the experience of his relatives does not lessen it. In effect, he invokes the racist meme of, Some of my best friends are Black/Jews/women.

Art Clogg
Burtts Corner, New Brunswick

It’s the mystery of Augusta
Do the tricked-up greens of Augusta National really neutralize good putters, as making long putts is so difficult?

Looking at some past winners, it would be hard to classify the following as really good putters or even just good putters: Danny Willett, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam.

What is needed is a very good iron player who has a good putting week.

Also, how come the players love to criticize the USGA, but never say a word about the conditions (did anyone on CBS mention how brown the greens looked?) of Augusta National or how rock-hard the greens are?

Is the Sunday front-left pin placement on No. 3 really fair?

And what about this policy of cutting the fairway grass toward the tees?

Gary Cohen
Great Neck, N.Y.

Too many missteps on Sunday in Augusta
What a bad Masters (“Take a bow, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama,” April 12).

Now, let me head you off right away: I have nothing against winner Hideki Matsuyama. I like Asian golfers, particularly the women. I had Matsuyama ranked a fantasy “best buy” for 2020, which was confirmed by his first round of 63 at the 2020 Players before the pandemic took over. Full congratulations and appreciation of his achievement. I was happy to gather the wagers Sunday morning from his pooh-poohers, who clung to the silly fantasy that a four-stroke lead was not enough.

But, that's exactly it. This was done Saturday night, and aside from runner-up Will Zalatoris, there was nothing entertaining about Sunday. Matsuyama already had earned it. And if the Masters doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday, as the saying goes, maybe it was the worst ever. Consider:

  • No Dustin Johnson, Sungjae Im, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia or Daniel Berger in the weekend field;
  • Jon Rahm needing like a 57 at the time he teed off;
  • Again, aside from Zalatoris, none of the 7-unders improving their totals;
  • Xander Schauffele punctuating the ubiquitous four-birdie run on the back nine with a triple bogey;
  • Matsuyama dumping a wedge into the right-side bunker on 18 when that's what he should have done on 15;
  • The 17th hole, which in the day was an obstacle but now merely a pitch-and-putt;
  • and the champion who should have delivered a ho-hum 70, failing even to make a par round, turning in a back-nine 39.

Look at the top four Sunday scores: Three of them – Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey – likely will be Ryder Cup opponents for the Americans. Thank Providence for the captain.

Martin Donnelly
Elmhurst, Ill.

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