After he drained his birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win his first major and become the first Australian to win the Masters, Adam Scott, whose putting had so often let him down on golf’s grandest stages, had the weight of a continent taken off of his shoulders.
Scott let out what must have been a career’s worth of pent up emotions, throwing his arms in the air as the August National patrons roared along with a golf-crazed continent down under.
For Scott and Australia, there will be no more questions and “what ifs” regarding the Masters and majors.
Scott’s Masters win was a tremendous–and redemptive–breakthrough for Scott, who let a four shot lead with four holes to play get away at last year’s British Open, and Australia, whose greatest golfers like Greg Norman came tantalizing close to winning a Green Jacket. Australians had finished in second in eight different Masters.
Scott had to work to ensure that 2013 would not see the ninth time as Australian had finished second at Augusta.
On the 18th hole, Scott, the Australian who has suffered one heart break after another at the majors and struggled with his putting on the biggest stages, birdied the hole. He drained the putt that countryman Greg Norman failed to make when he had a chance to win the Masters outright in 1987, and celebrated as if his one-shot lead at -9 had won him the Masters.
He thunderously yelled out, “C’mon Aussie!” Scott roared, embraced his caddie Steve Williams, who was on Tiger Woods’s bag for 13 of his 14 majors, and he looked like he would be the first Australian Masters winner as only Angel Cabrera, the 2009 Masters winner, was one-shot behind him with one hole to play.
A few minutes later, Cabrera essentially said: Not so fast, mate.
Cabrera stuck his approach on the 18th to less than five feet of the hole with a remarkable approach shot. He drained the putt, and then smiled widely while he hugged his son–and caddie–while savoring the moment on the 18th hole.
The Argentinian known as “El Pato (the duck)” possesses a combination of carefreeness and grit that has made him one of the more popular players on the tour. He was trying to become the second oldest Masters winner.
Scott and Cabrera would continue their duel–and spectacular shotmaking–in the playoff.
On the first playoff hole–the 18th hole–Cabrera and Scott hit their approach shots just off the green. Cabrera nearly chipped his shot in while Scott left his chip shot outside of Cabrera’s. Scott, who knew he would lose the tournament if he missed his par putt, calmly drained it. Cabrera tapped in his par, and the duo went to the second playoff hole–the 10th.
On that hole, Cabrera outdrove Scott, who used a driver, off the tee with a monster iron shot. Scott and Cabrera both hit their approaches to about ten feet of the hole.
Cabrera lined up his putt and missed it by an inch, setting the stage for Scott.
Scott looked at his putt, and then Williams, his caddie, called him off of it. He regrouped and then drained it to win his Green Jacket.
Cabrera, the 2009 Masters winner, started off the day tied with Brandt Snedeker, who broke down after shooting a 77 in the final pairing in the 2008 Masters. Austrian Jason Day also was in contention before bogeying holes on the back 9.
Cabrera was at -9 entering the famous back nine, where the Masters tournament is said to always begin. But the Argentinian bogeyed the 10th, then bogeyed the par-5 13th and, for good measure, parred the par-5 15th.
“El Pato” usually dominates the par-5s, so his bogey and par on the 13th and 15th, respectively, gave the field three shots.
Scott, after a steady string of pars, birdied the par-5 13th and 15th holes in a way Cabrera could not, and that allowed him to get to -8 heading to the 18th hole.
Cabrera dramatically birdied the 16th hole to get him to -8. Had he missed, the putt would have sailed 10 feet past the hole.
Tiger Woods finished in fourth at -5. Had his approach shot on the 15 hole in the second round on Friday not hit the flag stick, Woods may have been in the playoff. His approach shot hit the flag stick and went into the water. Woods left the hole with what he thought was a bogey 6 instead of the birdie 4 that would have been one his scorecard had his approach shot not hit the flag. On Saturday, Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty for an illegal drop but allowed to stay in the tournament because of a 2012 rule that prevents a player from being disqualified if the the scorecard that they signed turns out to be incorrect after the fact. Add those four shots to Woods’s score, and Woods would have been at -9.
But the day–and the tournament–belonged to Scott, who finally broke through by winning a major, and Australia, a golf-loving nation that finally can claim a Masters Green Jacket.