Eight previous times have Australians finished second at the Masters. Most famously no doubt is Greg Norman, three times the bridesmaid. Two years ago, Adam Scott and fellow Aussie Jason Day tied for second to Charl Schwartzel.
But none of that matters now. Adam Scott is the 2013 Masters Champion. He is the first Australian to win at Augusta National, a course that Geoff Ogilvy once said is “Royal Melbourne with greener grass.” Both Royal Melbourne and Augusta National were designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie.
Adam Scott led the field in greens in regulation, usually a very important statistic for Masters winners. Scott was nearly flawless tee-to-green. And that has never been a question for him, it’s always been about his putting. Through 17 holes Sunday he made absolutely nothing. It seemed that all of his putts were short or burned the edges.
Then Scott hit it to about 18 feet on the 18th green. A putt reminiscent of Mark O’Meara’s clincher from 1998. As the raindrops fell, Scott struck his putt and it rolled with good speed. The ball curled around the left edge and into the cup. As he pumped his fists, Scott shouted “C’mon Aussie!” and high-fived his caddie, Steve Williams.
Scott had reached 9-under par and took a one-shot lead. Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, the 2009 champion stood in the fairway after blasting his drive up the 18th. “El Pato” (Spanish for The Duck) then knocked his approach to about 3 feet. Setting up a birdie to force a playoff with Scott.
With both players finding the fairway at 18 (the first playoff hole) Scott’s approach came to the top of the false front and rolled back off the front of the green. Cabrera’s second shot had a similar result and came to rest at nearly the same spot.
Cabrera hit his chip and it nearly went in the hole. In his post-round press conference, Scott admitted that he thought “is this how it ends, really?” It would have been a similar result to Greg Norman’s loss to Larry Mize in 1987 as Mize chipped in on the 11th. But Cabrera’s chip rolled past on the right side.
Scott hit his chip, a decent effort, but not close to going in. He faced a testy five-footer that dropped int he center of the cup. Cabrera tapped his in and for the second straight year, the Masters went to a second playoff hole, the 10th.
Both players found the fairway off the tee, Scott with 3-wood and Cabrera with 3-iron. The Argentinean had 203 yards and flew his ball to about 20 feet below the hole. Scott then played from just inside 200 yards and knocked it pin high, about 15 feet to the right.
After Scott’s approach, Cabrera turned and gave his opponent a thumbs up. The two do have a history, playing together on the International side in the Presidents Cup in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Scott also shared a story that it was Cabrera who pulled him aside at the 09 Presidents Cup and gave him some words of encouragement. Scott was a captain’s pick for the team and had not been playing well for an extended period. Cabrera told Scott that he is a “great player” and Scott cited that pep talk as inspiration to turn his game around.
When Cabrera’s putt was struck it was tracking toward the hole with perfect speed. It curled along the right edge and stopped at the back edge of the hole, it did not drop.
Scott admitted that he was not comfortable with the read on his putt. He called in caddie Steve Williams for assistance. Scott said it was too dark for him to see the line, but thought it was one cup outside the hole. Williams insisted on two cups outside the hole, and he was right.
Scott holed the putt and thrust his arms in the air. No longer would he be lumped in the “best player without a major” conversation. His expectations from early success and a textbook swing had been fulfilled. And perhaps, most of all, he had won for his country. Australia’s “Curse of the Shark” (a reference to Greg Norman’s numerous close calls at Augusta) had been lifted. Australian broadcaster Luke Elvy called winning the Masters Australia’s “Sporting Everest” and Adam Scott had reached the summit.