Adam Scott plans to celebrate with Australian great Greg Norman after breaking his major duck, and that of his nation in the Masters, with a dramatic victory in near-darkness at Augusta. “A phone conversation’s not going to do it, we’re very close,” Scott said. “I would love to share a beer with him and talk through it all.”
Scott saw off Angel Cabrera with a birdie at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off to lay the ghost of Lytham last year, when he bogeyed the last four holes of the Open to lose by one stroke to Ernie Els.
The 32-year-old thought he had won the title in regulation when he holed from 25ft for birdie across the 18th green, celebrating wildly and roaring ‘Come on Aussie’ at Kiwi caddie Steve Williams — who was with Tiger Woods for 13 of his 14 major triumphs. However, Cabrera had other ideas after watching the drama unfold from back on the fairway, hitting his approach to three feet for birdie to tie Scott on nine under and force extra holes.
Both players parred the 18th from near-identical spots short of the green — Cabrera almost chipping in — and when Cabrera narrowly missed his birdie attempt on the 10th, Scott holed from 15ft to secure the Green Jacket which so cruelly evaded Norman. “I knew that was really then my chance, because it was getting too dark to play any more. Had to finish it,” Scott joked.
He added: “I could hardly see the green in the darkness so I called Steve over. I don’t get him to read too many putts, because I felt like I was reading them good. I said, ‘Do you think it’s just more than a cup?’ He said, ‘It’s at least two cups, it’s going to break more than you think.’” Norman finished a shot behind Jack Nicklaus in 1986, was denied by Larry Mize’s play-off chip-in a year later and famously blew a six-shot lead in the final round in 1996, but won many admirers for the dignified way he handled that crushing disappointment.
Scott added: “Anyone near to my age, he was the best player in the world, an icon. “Everything about the way he handled himself was incredible. He was a role model and he has devoted so much time to myself and other Australian players who came after him. He is incredibly generous. “Part of this definitely belongs to him, so it’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win, just incredible.
“It seems a long way away from last July when I was trying to win another major. It fell my way today, there was some luck there.” That was a reference to the moment when his approach to the par-five 13th held up on the bank of the green instead of rolling into the water, from where he chipped and putted for birdie to end a run of nine straight pars, while another birdie on the 15th set up the dramatic finale.
Fellow Australian Jason Day had been two shots clear on the 16th tee but bogeyed his next two holes to finish third on seven under, with compatriot Marc Leishman and Tiger Woods another two shots back in fourth. Cabrera, who won in 2009 in the same circumstances, said: “That’s how golf is. I came back and I had that chip on 18, I could have won it. “But Adam’s a good winner. I would have been happier if I had won but he’s a great player. I get along with him, we’ve played together in the President’s Cup and I’m happy for him.”
0 Amount of majors Tiger Woods has won when trailing into the final round.
0 Number of Australians to win at Augusta before Scott’s triumph.
4 Major championships won by players using the anchored putters due to be banned in 2016. Scott’s win completes the set after Keegan Bradley (2011, US PGA), Webb Simpson (2012 US Open) and Ernie Els (2012 Open).
19 of the last 23 Masters winners have come from the final group. Zach Johnson (2007), Charl Schwartzel (2011), Bubba Watson (2012) and Scott are the exceptions.
55 The age of Bernhard Langer, who had dreams of becoming golf’s oldest major champion after starting his round with three straight birdies.
9 Pars in succession made by Scott from the fourth hole in his final round.
1.1 (million) Prize money in pounds won by Scott.
68 Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen shot two rounds of 68 over the weekend, after opening with a 78, to finish as the leading European in joint sixth on his Masters debut.
14 Years since a European player won the Masters. Jose Maria Olazabal was the last to taste success in 1999.