Japanese rookie Ryo Hisatsune was in dreamland after receiving one of three special invitations to compete in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in April.

The 21-year-old, who is featuring in this week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta on the PGA TOUR, will join compatriot and 2021 Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama in the 88th playing of the year’s first major.

“Yesterday, I got a phone call and I was like wondering what is this number? It was amazing the call came from Augusta National, who said they were making this big announcement for me. I was like so excited. I was in my room and I jumped up. I was shaking. I was so surprised that I was speechless,” said Hisatsune on Wednesday.

“Hideki has won the title and I really wanted to play in the Masters too. It’s like my dream has come true.”

When he steps foot on the hallowed grounds this spring, it would mark yet another terrific milestone for Hisatsune’s career. After cutting his professional teeth in Japan where he won three times on the development tour, he earned his DP World Tour card through Qualifying School at the end of 2022 and later became only the third Japanese winner with a breakthrough triumph at the French Open last year.

With seven other top-10s, he earned his PGA TOUR card through the DP World Tour Top-10 and was later named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, the first Japanese to earn the accolade. He has made four starts on the PGA TOUR so far this season, with a best of T11 at The American Express.

“This (Masters) is the tournament I’ve wanted play the most and I’m extremely honoured to have received the special exemption from the Masters, I’m having trouble controlling my excitement. I used to watch the Masters every year and I was determined to appear at the event. I always used the final round broadcast as a motivation. I’m really happy I will get to play there this year.  I will talk to the other Senpai ( senior players) who have played Augusta and prepare well,” he said.

He is already planning to seek a practice round at Augusta National with Matsuyama, who returned to winning ways with a record ninth PGA TOUR victory at The Genesis Invitational last weekend. Like many others back home, Hisatsune was glued to his TV during the 2021 Masters where Matsuyama secured an historic triumph by becoming the first Japanese to win the prestigious tournament and put on the famous green jacket.

“I was watching it on TV and in Japan, it was very early in the morning. I woke up at 3am to watch and then Hideki won. I was so excited and I was moved. Now, I get a chance to compete on the same stage,” said Hisatsune, who learned to play the game when he was three years old and is currently ranked 78th in the world.

“It’s truly a dream stage. I’ve heard it’s a course with a lot of ups and downs and steep slopes, and I’m looking forward to tapping on the knowledge of my seniors and enjoying the special week with my team.”

Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and Joaquin Niemann of Chile also received the special invitations from Augusta National.

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