There’s that moment on Masters Sunday when no matter how badly you have to go to the bathroom or grab another beer, you’re glued to your seat and fixated on watching the 18th hole at Augusta National Golf Club. And then, out of nowhere, Adam Scott drills a 30-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole to fire a three-under 69 and move to nine-under.
With a single stroke, the 32-year-old Australian erased a somewhat dull Sunday at Augusta to produce an epic roar — and a raucous, triumphant celebration from the usually stoic, mild-mannered Scott. He yelled, “C’mon Aussie!” And then
successfully connected for a high-five with his caddie Stevie Williams.
“For a split second, I let myself think I could have won,” said Scott, who hit 15 of 18 greens in the
final round, in his post-round press conference. “Might have showed that when it went in.”
So did we, Adam, who was 15 when he watched his fellow Australian and childhood hero Greg Norman
choke throw away the ’96 Masters to come up short for the third time. So did we.
I actually shrieked (yes, I kid you not and I have no idea why it was the sound that came out of my windpipes), knocked my computer out of my lap and fell over. I even got choked up.
This is why we love sports. It was awe-inspiring. It was the type of putt you dream
of making on the 72nd hole at Augusta National — even if it ultimately wasn’t for the win.
“I kind of said to myself in my head, and I’ve said it to ‑‑ between my coach and I a few times that’s the putt you’ve seen guys hole,” said Scott. “O’Meara is the one that comes to mind. That in my mind might have been a bit longer, but that’s the one guys hole. You’ve seen the read. You know it goes a bit right‑to‑left. I just told myself to go with instinct; just put it out there and hit it. Show everyone how much you want it. This is the one.”
From the 18th fairway, 2009 Masters champ Angel Cabrera watched the Putt Heard Around Augusta. The Argentinian needed to birdie to force a playoff. If he was rattled at all, he certainly didn’t show it. Per usual, El Pato’s ball was already in the air before you could even blink and it stopped four feet fellow the hole. No fear.
But this was Scotty’s Masters. It was his turn. It was an Australian’s time to don a green jacket. Even Cabrera knew it.
Adam couldn’t have done it without Stevie, who notched his 14th major victory. With darkness looming, Scott, who doesn’t usually have Stevie read that many putts, couldn’t see very well, called Stevie in help him read his putt on the second playoff hole. “(Stevie) was my eyes for (the winning) putt,” said Scott, referring to the 12-footer on the par-4 no. 10. “I wasn’t comfortable looking down there. It was really dark, and you know, he’s seen a lot of putts at this golf course. I knew it was a fast putt, so I said, I’m going to hit it to kind of go in the front edge, so I want a line for that. And he said it’s at least two cups. So it was an unbelievable read.” Had Adam not trusted Stevie with the read, we might be having a different conversation with a different outcome right now.
Scott’s performance at Augusta showed guts and grit. Which we already knew he had last summer at the British Open.
Wait, what? Hold on, just hear me out. Maybe he didn’t take home the Claret Jug, but he showed he had the backbone of a champion.
Rewind to the Open Championship last July at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s: Scott had a four-shot lead with four to play. Game over, right? Nope.
Scott bogeyed the last four and lost to Ernie Els. He had a 12-footer to get in a playoff on the 72nd hole and he missed. It was a gut-wrenching collapse, to say the least.
I recall Scott handled the heartbreaking upset with composure and class. He was a likable loser that everyone in the interview room wanted to see bounce back.
I went back to look up his comments because I know he was extremely gracious and thoughtful in defeat.
“I can’t justify anything that I’ve done out there,” said Scott after the final round of the 2012 Open Championship. “I didn’t finish the tournament well today. But I’m sure there will be a next time, and I can do a better job of it…
“I’m optimistic and I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week and use that for the next time I’m out on the course.Maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet. But maybe there will be a bit more disappointment when I get home and kind of wind down. I haven’t even wound down. I feel like I’ve just walked off the course and
it’s all a lot to digest, and I feel fine at the moment. “But I’m a positive guy; I’m optimistic and I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week and use that for the next time I’m out on the course.” At the PGA Championship the following month last August, he finished tied for 11th.
Back to present day. Less than nine months later, Scott fulfilled his self-prophecy from the Open.
“Everything I said after the Open is how I felt, and I meant it,” said Adam after winning the Masters on Sunday. “It did give me more belief that I could win a major. It proved to me, in fact, that I could.
“And the PGA, I was more motivated at the PGA than, I would say, the Open just a few weeks before. It was to myself now; you know you can do it. The time, there’s not a better time. “I played well. And it’s one of those things, it’s a knife edge when we came back to finish holes Sunday morning. I made a mess of a couple par 5s around the green and made 6 instead of 4…it’s such small things that make a difference.”
Adam Scott did more than just break the 76-year Australian drought at The Masters, he changed the tone of the week — where the headlines dominating arguably the biggest golf tournament of the year had been rules
controversies (Covers on NY Post:”Tiger Puts Balls in Wrong Place Again” and Sunday NY Daily News: “What a Putz!”).
As the first Australian to don a green jacket, an entire country shared Scott’s victory. “It was one guy who inspired a nation of golfers, and that is Greg Norman,” said Scott. “Part of this definitely belongs to
It’s worth reading Scott’s full press conference transcript
here. He’s not just a pretty face!
This one’s for you, Australia. Now turn up those speakers. Congrats, Adam and Stevie.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)