Date: April 15, 2013

Grant Report – Scott snaps Masters jinx

It seemed like it would never happen. But, finally, the greatest jinx in Australian golf has been snapped.

A brave and aggressive final round at Augusta has delivered the US Masters title, the only major prize to elude Australians, into the hands of Adam Scott.

The Queenslander produced a bold and confident round, rolling in a seven metre birdie at the last to make the play-off and then clinching the tournament with a four metre birdie putt on the second extra hole to defeat the dogged Argentinian Angel Cabrera, the 2009 champion.

Scott’s breakthrough victory, hailed as one of the most stunning by any Australian, meant possibly more than any single grand slam win previously achieved by any of his countrymen.

Year after year, Augusta left Australian golfers drained and defeated. There seemed to be a curse – even two years ago when Scott and compatriot Jason Day were in contention, they were doomed at the end.

Scott shot a final round 69 to finish level with Cabrera on 279, sending the pair into a play-off. After both parred the first, Cabrera’s birdie putt at the second missed agonisingly by centimetres.

The Australian then rammed his four metre putt into the cup to end the greatest hoodoo in the game for his countrymen.

The leaderboard was swamped with Australians heading into the final few holes, with first round leader Marc Leishman, from Warrnambool, and Day all mounting charges.

Day dropped a shot and finished in outright third at seven under par while Leishman maintained his brilliant Augusta week to finish five under and tied for fourth with Tiger Woods.

"Golf is a big sport at home, and this is the one thing in golf we hadn’t been able to achieve," Scott said. "It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Australian to win. It’s incredible."

The win was also redemption for Scott who last year gave up the British Open to Ernie Els when he bogeyed the final four holes to lose by one shot.

That day the 32-year-old said: "Next time — I’m sure there will be a next time — I can do a better job of it."  He was true to his word.

Cabrera refused to buckle though, forcing the Australian to produce brilliant golf at exactly the right time.

Just after Scott birdied the 18th hole to take a one-shot lead and screamed "C’mon, Aussie!" Cabrera answered with an approach that landed a metre from the cup, giving him a birdie and a play-off spot.

Scott did what no other Australian could. He did what Greg Norman could have and should have. Norman had four chances to win, none better than when he blew a six-shot lead on the last day to lose by five shots to Nick Faldo in 1996.

Nevertheless, while Norman for years provided Australians with bitter disappointment, Scott paid him tribute in Butler Cabin before he slipped on his green jacket.

"Australian is a proud sporting nation, and this is one notch in the belt we never got," Scott said. "It’s amazing that it came down to me today. But there’s one guy who inspired a nation of golfers, and that’s Greg Norman. He’s been incredible to me and all the great golfers. Part of this belongs to him."

Day closed with a 70, his second close call at the Masters in three years. This one hurt far more because he had a two-shot lead when he stepped to the 16th tee.

That disappeared quickly, however as Day chose to hit putter from behind the 16th green, came up two metres short and missed the par putt. He hit into a bunker on the 17th for another bogey.

"I think the pressure got to me a little bit," Day said.

Scott was in the scoring room when he looked up and saw Cabrera chase after his approach, pumping his fist when his seven iron landed a metre from the cup for a birdie.

"It was a split second I thought I’d won," Scott said. "That was the putt we’ve seen so many guys make to win, and what I thought is it’s time for me to step up and see how much I want this. To make a couple putts to win the Masters is just an amazing feeling."

By: Robert Grant