MORRISSEY: Adam Scott becomes first Australian to win Masters
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com April 14, 2013 9:00PM
Adam Scott, Steve Williams, Angel Cabrera
Updated: April 17, 2013 12:17PM
AUGUSTA, Ga. — I can’t
say Adam Scott was
carrying the hopes and dreams of every Australian with him Sunday because I don’t know that to be true.
I do know the hopes and dreams of an Australian writer sitting near me were wired into whatever Scott was doing in the final round at Augusta National. When Scott ran in a 20-foot putt on the 18th hole to take a one-stroke lead, the writer shook his fists and let out a guttural roar that sounded like 10 minutes before feeding time at the lion cage.
When Angel Cabrera, playing in the group behind Scott’s, put his approach shot to within three feet of the cup on No. 18, our man started hitting himself in the head with his fist. Birdie for Cabrera. Playoff, anyone?
It occurred to me this guy was the Australian Everyman. If a professional journalist was this excited, how much more was the rest of Australia? And why couldn’t I support Alfonso Soriano?
This is how it looks when a sports-adoring country that never has won a Masters finally does. It looks a bit unhinged — in a very cool way.
It looks like this: When Scott made that birdie putt, the one he thought had won him a green jacket, he screamed, ‘‘Come on, Aussie!’’
Easy there, Aussie. Not just yet.
With darkness closing in and the rain pouring down, two golfers went head-to-head in a kind of moving cage match. Scott was holding the hopes of Australia, a country that had given us Greg Norman’s famous collapse here
Cabrera, who had won this tournament in 2009, was holding the hopes of anyone who likes his or her golf a little rough around the edges.
On the first playoff hole, No. 18, the two ended up within a foot of each other after their approach shots rolled off the green. Cabrera almost holed his chip and settled for par. Scott made a three-footer for par.
On No. 10, the second playoff hole, they each hit beautiful iron shots into the green. Cabrera’s curling, 15-foot birdie putt missed by centimeters. Scott took out his long-shafted putter, an obscenity to golf traditionalists, and . . . squinted.
‘‘I couldn’t hardly see the
green in the darkness,’’ he said. ‘‘[Caddie Steve Williams] was my eyes for that.’’
Williams told him to aim two cups left of the hole. He did, and his aim on the 12-foot putt was true. Australia grabbed the green jacket by the lapels.
‘‘It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win,’’ Scott said. ‘‘Just incredible.’’
He found time to honor Norman, whose struggles here were of the Greek tragedy variety. It was Norman who blew a six-stroke lead and lost to Nick Faldo by five strokes in the ’96 Masters. And it was Norman who became one of the enduring symbols of golf futility.
‘‘He inspired a nation of golfers,’’ Scott said. ‘‘Anyone near to my age , older and younger, he was the best player in the world. He was an icon in Australia. Everything about the way he handled himself was incredible to have as a role model.
‘‘And just that was enough. But he’s devoted so much time to myself and other young Australian golfers. Incredibly generous.’’
Speaking of generous, there’s Cabrera. On the deciding playoff hole, he gave Scott a thumbs up after Scott’s iron shot rolled into birdie range. It was the epitome of sportsmanship and goodwill.
Cabrera is from another time, maybe 40 or 50 years ago, when pro golfers were swashbucklers — or as much as guys in plaid pants could be. There was room back then for self-taught pros, gamblers, rogues and guys with dust on their boots and dirt under their nails. They played fast, and some of them played fast and loose.
Cabrera has been known to have a cigarette in his mouth. When he hits a good shot, he starts walking after it immediately, as though he can’t wait to see the fruits of his labors. Or maybe he’s looking for the beer cart. He deserves props for how he carried himself Sunday.
Beer brings us back to our Australian writer. Some friends came by after Scott’s victory, and our guy hugged them. Who were they? Aussies, for sure. Writers? Golfers? Golf officials? Who knows. It probably didn’t matter. If a person said ‘‘mate,’’ he would have hugged him.
‘‘We have to find the party,’’ he said.
I think he already did.