Australia Finally Gets Green Jacket
Adam Scott, of Australia, examines the buttons on his green jacket after winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Augusta, Ga. — So many of his countrymen came before him, and all of them came up short.
He even felt the pain of coming so close at Augusta National Golf Club.
Adam Scott, however, ended Australia’s Masters drought with a pair of heart-stopping birdie putts — the second in a playoff to beat Angel Cabrera — to become the first Aussie to slip on the green jacket. Scott shot a 3-under-par 69 in a bogey-free final round and finished the tournament at 9 under on a rainy Sunday at Augusta National.
“Australia is a proud sporting nation, and this is one notch in the belt that we never had,” Scott said.
For much of yesterday, the green jacket seemed destined to rest on the shoulders of an Australian. Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day were all among the leaders throughout the final round, but Scott jumped ahead as the Aussie pace car with a birdie on the 15th hole.
He went to the final hole tied for the lead, but he reigned atop the leaderboard facing the 18th green following a 25-foot birdie putt. The birdie, similar to the one Mark O’Meara holed to win the 1998 Masters, sent shockwaves throughout Augusta National and probably across a large swath of sports fans Down Under, where it was Monday morning.
Scott unleashed a furious celebration, complete with screams, fist pumps and a high-five with caddie Steve Williams, who was on the bag for three of Tiger Woods’ Masters victories.
“I was pumped,” Scott said. “It was a huge moment.”
Cabrera watched 170 yards away from the 18th fairway as Scott drained his putt, but the 2009 Masters champion was unflappable. Playing in the final group, Cabrera stuck his approach to 3 feet and holed the birdie putt to force extra holes.
Cabrera, who beat Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in a playoff to win his green jacket, almost ended the tournament when his chip on the first playoff hole — No. 18 — trickled within 6 inches of going in the hole.
“His chip on the first playoff hole was just beautiful and unlucky not to go in,” Scott said. “That must have gone right over the edge of that hole. My heart was about to stop as I was standing at the side of the green thinking, ‘Is this it, really?’ ”
After both players settled on pars, they headed to No. 10, where Bubba Watson won last year’s Masters on a miraculous hook shot from the woods.
Both players found the fairway and then the green in regulation before Cabrera missed his birdie putt again by mere inches.
Scott didn’t miss his chance. With rain pelting the players and darkness closing in, Scott asked Williams to help read the putt, which Scott holed from about 15 feet.
“He was my eyes on that putt,” Scott said.
Scott’s putt softened the disappointing memories of Australian golfers at the hands of Augusta National.
Greg Norman, a hero to Australian golfers around Scott’s age, self-destructed at the Masters twice. Scott and Jason Day were in the mix on Sunday at the Masters in 2011, only to have Charl Schwartzel roll from behind with birdies on the final four holes to win the green jacket. In all, Australians had finished second at the Masters on eight different occasions.
Scott’s win also erased the memories of his own collapse less than a year ago at Royal Lytham & St. Annes during the British Open. Scott shot a 75 on Sunday and lost a four-shot lead to Ernie Els. Scott missed a putt inside 10 feet on the final hole that would’ve forced a playoff that Sunday.
A rather quiet Masters — the biggest story of the week through 63 holes was the two-shot penalty assessed to Tiger Woods following an illegal drop in the second round — turned riveting on the back nine yesterday.
Cabrera looked to have one arm in the green jacket heading to the second nine, but crazy things seem to always happen at this tournament in these final nine holes on Sundays.
Cabrera bogeyed the 10th and couldn’t escape Amen Corner unscathed when he hit a shot in the water on No. 13 for a second bogey.
Day seemingly became the beneficiary, charging into the lead with three straight birdies beginning on No. 13. The 25-year-old watched Schwartzel storm to a green jacket in 2011 at his expense, but Day seemed to be the one rolling toward a Masters victory with his run.
But Day bogeyed No. 16 and followed that with another on the 17th. He finished his round two shots out of the playoff.
“Obviously, I think the pressure got to me a little bit,” Day said.
Scott made birdies the par-5 13th and 15th holes to move into the lead before he drained his birdie putt on No. 18 to get to 9 under.
Cabrera got back into the mix with a long birdie putt on No. 16 before forcing the playoff with the birdie on the 72nd hole.
“The back nine here solves a lot and gives you a chance,” said Scott, who has finished in the top 15 in his past five major championship appearances.