Many things make golf great but one of them is that there’s no limit to what one can dream. At the same time, that dream does not necessarily have to be Tiger Woods hanging Jack Nicklaus’ poster on his wall and then dreaming of winning more majors than the Golden Bear. A dream could be someday breaking 80, or winning the father/son tournament at your local club, or playing someday in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, or in Adam Scott’s case, being the first golfer from Australia to win a Green Jacket at The Masters.
Today Adam’s dream came true and it came true in spectacular style as he defeated Angel Cabrera on the 2nd hole of sudden death, winning with a birdie on the 10th after both competitors made par on 18. He won somewhat surprisingly as well because before holing a once-in-a-lifetime putt not once but TWICE, first a 30-footer on the 72nd hole that he surely thought was the winning stroke, and then the winning 12-footer on 10 in the playoff, he was a walking advertisement for the banishment of the long putter and not because he was making everything. He couldn’t buy a putt and it is a slight injustice that he didn’t win by two or three shots in regulation because he played that much better than everyone else from tee to green.
Those made putts though certainly registered seismically down under as the golf-mad nation of Australia finally had their Masters Champion. It looked for much of the back nine that Jason Day would be that champion but he became a bit unnerved on the last three holes, starting with a long pull off the tee at 16 that left him in three-putt territory.
The little-known Marc Leishman had his chance at glory for Australia as well but after his opening 66 he didn’t move much up or down the leaderboard the rest of the way and didn’t make enough happen to make a serious challenge at the title. Rather, that title went to Adam Scott and that it did so likely had as much to do with that aforementioned dream of his as it did with his great play. For Adam suffered a defeat last summer at Lytham in the Open Championship that would have left many players reeling for years, four straight bogeys down the stretch to lose by one. It was the definition of “that word”…
The Open would have been great but the fact that the Championship went to Adam’s good friend Ernie Els eased the sting, and combined with the realization that the Masters Green Jacket was the true career prize left Scott with a reason to bounce back and to do so quickly. Now that he has won one for Greg Norman and all of the great fans Down Under, anything else that may come is gravy and whether the floodgates now open with major titles or this ends up being it for him, his career is Mission Accomplished.
Adam had to best a most worthy challenger in Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, 2009 Masters Champion and someone who was looking to continue Argentina’s great year (white smoke anyone???). Cabrera looked every bit the experienced champion as he overcame a shaky stretch of holes from 10 to 15 to deliver clutch birdies on 16 and 18, the last a rare birdie-on-top-of-a-birdie to send things to extra holes.
But it was not meant to be for Cabrera and though he shared a memorable moment with his son on the bag after his birdie at 18, his effort to become the first Grandpa to win at Augusta National was thwarted by just a few blades of grass as he just missed holing a chip on 18 and then a birdie putt of his own on 10 in the playoff.
The closing stretch of this years Masters did a lot to overcome what was until that point a long week at Augusta. But the tournament eventually overcame the adversity and poor PR that came from the Guan and Woods rulings and the results vindicated the Club. Guan still made the cut and became Low Amateur, and the slow-play penalty allowed him the opportunity to enhance his reputation as a person. Woods didn’t win and he didn’t miss the playoff by one or two, and there’s no asterisk on Adam Scott’s victory because Tiger was DQ’d and Adam no longer had to beat him. It’s also worth noting that had Woods won he would have done so within the current rules. Whether he should have withdrawn is another story and one that is very much subject to opinion.
Lost in the Woods controversy has been just how bad a break he received on Friday at 15. In the lead, looking to take control of the tournament, ending up with a bogey that turned into an 8, and a lot of controversy in the process, we’ll never know what might have happened had that shot hopped passed the pin and skidded to a stop leaving a makable birdie putt.
Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer were among the feel-good stories of the week with their strong senior showings but these were just sidebars in the end. This was Adam Scott’s week, in fact it was a week for all of golf in Australia. Congratulations to all and only two months until Merion.