In gritty fashion, Adam Scott won the Masters for his country, his mentor, but most of all, for himself
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Ever seen rain become diamonds falling from the sky? Ever seen the gloaming become sunrise? On this Sunday afternoon, when reason gave way to magic, the sweet sounds of "Waltzing Matilda" came through the pines, for Adam Scott had won the Masters in the most implausible way. The Aussie who couldn't putt, did.
First he used that broomstick thing -- anchored at his sternum and soon to be illegal -- to roll in a 20-footer at the 72nd hole. Then, at the second playoff hole against Angel Cabrera, Scott made a curling 15-footer to become the first Australian winner of the tournament that 17 years ago broke the heart of his countryman, mentor, and idol, Greg Norman.
Only last summer, Scott had the British Open won. But for no reason he could explain, he missed a short putt, then another, and soon enough he had lost the Open to Ernie Els. He came to golf as a prodigy, tall, lean, handsome, the anointed successor to Norman. Even now he is only 32 years old, an international star who has won 16 times on the PGA and European Tours. And yet in the major championships, his reach had always exceeded his grasp.
But if a man dares not reach, he never touches the stars. Six weeks after that Open, Scott contended again in the PGA Championship. Then he came here, to Georgia, to Bobby Jones's beautifully devilish golf course, where Norman had lost a six-shot lead on a Sunday in 1996.
Scott came to the 18th green on this Sunday tied for the lead. "I was prepared," he would say later. "It was a huge moment. I wanted to put all the pressure on the guy back down the fairway. It was my chance and I took it."
At the 18th, Scott had a putt he had seen before. It was the 20-footer from the green's right half. It was familiar to anyone with a Masters obsession, the right-to-left putt made by Mark O'Meara to win in 1998. Scott said he thought, "Show everybody how much you want it."
It would give him a one-shot lead over Cabrera, then on the 18th fairway waiting to hit his second to the green. He knew the line. He'd come to understand how slowly the greens ran in the all-day drizzle, by then a full rainstorm, rain that somehow sparkled in the twilight. As Scott moved to the putt, he thought, "This is the one."
Then it fell in. And there arose a roar that surely startled Australia's kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies from their late-morning sleep. The noise came from thousands of umbrella'd spectators at the 18th green. It also came from Scott, who in an antic dance of restrained emotions suddenly released found himself screaming, "C'mon, AUSSIE!"
Only it wasn't done.
It's Augusta's beauty, that it's never done.
The place celebrates imagination and daring.
Angel Cabrera stood down the hill in the 18th fairway. The Argentine grandfather, 43 years old, twice a major champion, had 153 yards. He hit a 7-iron. The shot was perfect. Of course. It came to rest two feet from the cup. Playoff.
After pars at the first playoff hole, Cabrera and Scott came to the 10th green in the near-dark, still raining, probably not enough light to play past this hole. It was so dark, Scott said, that he didn't trust his read of the line on his 15-footer. He asked caddie Steve Williams to look at it.
"Is it a cup?" Scott said.
"At least two cups," Williams said.
This one, too, fell in, and now it was over, and now Adam Scott had made real the words Cabrera said to him in a time of discouragement: "He told me, 'You're a great, great player.' Something I didn't forget."
Everyone knows it now, even Adam Scott.