Augusta, Ga. -- He couldn’t see the green. After 73 holes, after thinking he had won once and being forced to duel with Angel Cabrera until they both faced birdie putts in the second hole of a playoff, Adam Scott tried to read the most important putt any Australian ever has faced and thought he might as well be blindfolded.
In what must be considered a cruel joke Down Under, he had to call in a New Zealander. “I really couldn’t see it,” Scott said later. “I had to ask Steve.”
Stevie Williams, the former Tiger Woods caddie who now works for Scott.
Scott guessed he’d have to aim his birdie putt a bit outside of the hole. Williams insisted he needed to aim much farther out. Scott took him at his word and poured in a 15-footer, then turned to Williams and screamed his nation’s favorite slogan: “C’mon Aussie!”
“Under the circumstances,” Scott said, “I didn’t think he’d mind.”
After four days of golfing sprawl, Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera made the Masters seem claustrophobic Sunday afternoon. They birdied the 18th hole to send the tournament to sudden-death holes, then fired shots that could have been mistaken for one another in the rain and gloaming, in their quest for the famous green rainjacket. They would create one of the most dramatic finishes in Masters history.
After Cabrera’s approach found the 10th green, Scott followed with a 6-iron that settled pin-high, and Cabrera turned and gave him the thumbs-up sign. Minutes later, they were hugging on the green, after Scott become the first Australian to win the Masters, only nine months after he bogeyed the last four holes to lose the British Open.
Then Scott found and hugged his father, who also was his first golf instructor. “He said, ‘It doesn’t get any better than this,’ ” Scott said.
Phil Scott could have been talking about his son’s historic victory, or the sportsmanship of gracious competitors, or the shots barely visible in the gloaming that can define or deflate a career.
“He’s been looking for it, searching for it, this major title,” Cabrera said. “He’s achieved it, so I’m pretty sure his life is going to change really fast right now.”
A certain Australian-themed restaurant uses the slogan “No Rules, Just Right,” and that described Sunday. Following two days of rules interpretations, Sunday became a display of the best of golf: skill and grace under pressure, as roars echoed through the pines. “That was deafening, going down 10 in the playoff,” Scott said.
Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman began Sunday in the top five, three Australians trying to win a first Masters for their country and supplant one of Scott’s idols and mentors, Greg Norman, as the symbol of Australian frustration. Norman entered the final round in 1996 with a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo and collapsed.
“He’s inspired a nation of golfers, anyone near to my age,” Scott said. “He was the best player in the world and he was an icon in Australia. Everything about the way he handled himself was incredible to have as a role model.
“Just that was enough, but he’s devoted so much time to myself and other young Australian players who came after him. Most of us would feel he could have slipped a green jacket on, for sure, and I said part of this is for him.”
Would he call Norman? “A phone call won’t do it,” he said. “I think we’ll have to have a bee-ah.”
Later, in the interview room, moderator Craig Heatley, another Kiwi, said, “When I heard the roar down on 10, a second later I heard about 30 million people in Australia and New Zealand all cheering as well.”
Scott said, “We are a proud sporting country, and like to think we are the best at everything, like any proud sporting country. This was the one thing in golf that we had not been able to achieve. It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win.”
Jim Souhan can been heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10-noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org
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