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C'mon Aussies! - Scott Wins Masters
Adam Scott finally removed a stigma attached to the golf-loving nation of Australia. Though it wasn't easy, the 32-year-old from Adelaide became the first Aussie in 77 Masters Tournaments to don a green jacket.
In a typically wild back nine on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, Scott and Angel Cabrera ended up tied in regulation at 9-under-par 279. Scott, who began the final round a stroke back of Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker, closed with a 3-under 69, while the 43-year-old Argentine had a 70.
Scott, who's had some heartbreak in previous majors - including a devastating second-place in last year's Open Championship after carding four straight bogeys at the end of the round to lose the claret jug to Ernie Els, and a tie for second in the Masters two years ago - was magical on this Sunday.
With Cabrera watching from the middle of the 18th fairway on the 72nd hole, Scott sank a 30-foot downhill putt ahead on the green for a birdie to go one up on Cabrera. When the ball disappeared into the hole to get him to 9-under and a stroke ahead of Cabrera, an exultant Scott yelled, "C'mon Aussies!"
But the burly Cabrera, seeking a second green jacket to go with the one he won in 2009, hit his approach to two feet and made the easy putt to send the tournament into a sudden-death playoff. On the first extra hole, the 18th, both players hit the fairway with their drives but both hit short of the green.
Cabrera almost sank his birdie chip, the ball stopping just on the other side of the cup. Scott then hit his to two feet, with both players making pars and them moving on to the 10th hole, the site of Bubba Watson's heroics from the pine trees in 2012 when he beat Louis Oosthuizen for his first Masters title.
While Scott hit a 3-wood off the tee - finding the fairway, Cabrera did the same with a long-iron. Cabrera's 6-iron approach stopped 15 feet below the hole, while Scott's was 12 feet right of the flag. Cabera's birdie putt narrowly missed going in, while Scott made his second huge putt in three holes to secure his first major title and the first-ever green jacket for an Australian.
When Scott's putt disappeared, it set off another celebration that extended all the way across the globe to "Down Under." Scott and Cabrera, two members on numerous Presidents Cup International teams, hugged and Scott celebrated with his caddie, Steve Williams, Tiger Woods' former looper and a native of New Zealand.
Through an interpreter, a classy Cabrera said of Scott's clutch play, "That's kind of golf - I had that chip on 18 (the first playoff hole) that could have won it. Adam is a good champion . . . I would have been happy if I'd have won. But I'm happy for him and he's a terrific champion."
When a stunned Scott was presented with a new green jacket in the Butler Cabin by Watson, he said, "It seems like a long time - there was some luck there. It's incredible to be in this position."
As for being the first Aussie to win the Masters, he added, "I tried not to think along those lines (of winning for his country). I tried to stay in the moment. Amazing that it came down to me today," he added in reference to fellow Australians Marc Leishman and Jason Day, who were also in it right to the end.
Scott then paid tribute to the most famous Aussie golfer of them all, one that had many chances to break the Aussie jinx at Augusta National but experienced nothing but heartbreak while in the prime of his illustrious career. "One guy that inspired me was Greg Norman."
As for maintaining his remarkable composure and performance, Scott added, "It was time for me to step up and see how much I wanted this."
Finishing in third at 7-under 281 was Day, who closed with a 70. The 25-year-old took the outright lead on the par-5 15th hole with his third straight birdie to reach 9-under. But Day, who finished tied with Scott two years ago at the Masters, closed with a pair of disappointing bogeys on the par-4 17th and 18th holes. When Day completed his round he was greeted by his wife and infant son.
"The pressure got to me a little bit," Day admitted of his final two holes. "I hope Adam can win it." A disappointed Day later told reporters, "I should have won this."
Tied for fourth at 283 were four-time champion Tiger Woods (70) and Leishman. The 29-year-old Leishman took the opening-round lead with a 66, but on Masters Sunday could only muster two birdies and a pair of bogeys for a 72. Still, his finish made it three Aussies in the top-five.
The final round was played in rainfall that ranged from light to relatively heavy. The rain, combined with the humidity, made putting difficult for many players, including Woods, who came into the tournament as an overwhelming favorite. "I had a hard time with the speed (of the greens), and that was before the rain," the four-time Masters champion told a TV reporter.
"The greens were so much slower (than the first three rounds), the putts wouldn't roll out." Before the dramatic conclusion, he noted, "I thought I could shoot 65 today, and it looks like that might be the number."
Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen matched Sunday's low round, a 4-under 68, to tie for sixth with Snedeker, who never got going. After posting two bogeys and a pair of birdies on the front nine for an even-par 36, the Nashville native began the home half with two bogeys and never recovered, shooting a 3-over 39 for a 75.
Sergio Garcia (70), Lee Westwood (71) and Matt Kuchar (73) shared eighth at 285, while another stroke back were John Huh (68) and Tim Clark (73).
Two notable past Masters winners, 1992 champion, the 53-year-old Fred Couples, and two-time champion Bernhard Langer, 55, closed with rounds of 71 and 76, respectively.
The only amateur to make the weekend cut, 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang, closed with a respectable 3-over 75 and a 12-over 300 total. When presented with the trophy in the Butler Cabin as the low amateur in the 2013 Masters, the teenager - the youngest player ever to qualify for the Masters - said, "It was a great week for me and I learned a lot from great golfers."
When asked about what his international coming-out party will do for golf in his home country, Tianlang added, "I think more young people in China will play golf."
In defense of his title, Watson closed with a 5-over 77 to end up tied for 50th at 7-over 295 with, among others, fellow Masters champions Jose Maria Olazabal and Trevor Immelman.
For all the scores, visit http://www.majorschampionships.com/masters/leaderboard.html.