Date: December 01, 2013
Author: Peter Stone at Royal Sydney Golf Club

Stone: It’s still a phenomenal year say six major champions

Adam Scott was like the marathon runner who went out far too fast, visibly tiring as each kilometre passed. The finish line was in sight, then the tape just a few strides away. He lunged forward to breast the tape completely exhausted and fell to the ground. Rory McIlroy came past and breasted the tape, and he was the Emirates Australian Open Champion. Scott&aposs triumphant homecoming to parade the green jacket, the first ever worn by an Australian, was supposed to end with him joining Robert Allenby as the only ones to win Australian golf’s Triple Crown the PGA, Masters and Open in a single year but it was not to be. As the massive crowd filed to the gates, some shaking their heads in disbelief and disappointment, one of a group of young lads said to his mates: What great value was that. Indeed it was and Scott has surely brought a whole new generation as a fan base for the future. He has revilatised public awareness in the game since the ageing of Greg Norman. Is it too late to nominate Scott for the 2013 Australian of the Year award? As I write, I ve just received a text from Robert Allenby: Well I guess I m still the king. But, despite his single shot loss to McIlroy, six of Australia s living former major winners today joined to lead a celebration chorus for Scott s grand year in golf that began with him becoming this country s first Masters Champion. David Graham watched on TV at his US home until bedtime called well after his normal retiring hour. It had been a big day as he and his wife Maureen celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. We spoke on the premise that Scott would win the Open, and he, too, will be stunned when he wakes to hear the Ulsterman is our champion, but his comments still stand on Scotty s marvelous year. While Kel Nagle remains so active in the mind, his body is weary at the age of 92 years, 345 days. He watched from his room in a northern suburbs nursing home. The 84-year-old five-times British Open Champion Peter Thomson was on course at Royal Sydney with his wife Mary, excited about the talented youth in Australian golf, watching Ryan Ruffels for a couple of holes, and marveling at Scott s year in golf. Ian Baker-Finch and Wayne Grady were in the Channel Seven commentary box waxing lyrical about both Scott and the 24-year-old Rory McIlroy as the Ulsterman threw his very best at Scott in a bid to deny him one final moment of glory for the year. One could detect a touch of patriotism in their voices while trying to remain dispassionate. The disappointment was more obvious in the end. And, the sixth, 2006 US Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy, was on the course, much earlier than Scott, completing what basically was a disappointing Open for him to continue what, for him, has also been a disappointing year. He shot a final round one-over 73 to finish two under the card. We telephoned both Greg Norman (the 1986 and 1993 British Open Champion) and 1995 PGA Champion Steve Elkington on their respective US cell phones and left a voice message, but they either didn t check their voice mail or were otherwise occupied. But, the Shark has made it well known his absolute delight through the year with Scott s achievements and it was interesting the other day hear that in his early years as a professional he called the Shark Mr Norman, but it is only in recent years it s become Greg. Scott is this country s 10th major champion and the first, Jim Ferrier who won the 1947 PGA Championship. He died in June, 1986, but through his career won 18 times on the PGA Tour and 10 tournaments here at home. So, here are the thoughts of those six Australian winners about Scott: KEL NAGLE (1960 Open Champion): He looked as though he was getting pretty tired, it s hard to maintain it week after week like that. I ve noticed it in the last couple of tournaments where he makes a lot of birdies early and then fades. But, his year has been an amazing performance, he going to get better and better, he’s got a taste of success now. It’s his build, the way he walks, the confidence he has, he looks the complete player. And, he is just so humble, he goes about his game and there is no flasiness in him. He behaves himself, there s not bad stuff about him. I really enjoy watching him, one of the original gentlemen of golf said. PETER THOMSON (Open Champion 1954, 55, 56, 58 & 1965) (Everyone talks of the Masters but) it is my view he has to win The Open Championship, that s the bigger event, a bigger title and everything else that The Masters. (But) his year has been phenomenal, it indicates someone very special and I think my wish for him to win The Open several times is coming nearer and I will be pleased when I see it. He brings so much to the game of golf, if you exclude the long putter, and he’s a real gentleman. But I wish he would take his cap off now and again. As always, Thommo was very succinct with his words, but clearly he is full of admiration for Scott. DAVID GRAHAM (1979 PGA Championship, 1981 US Open) Adam has had a fantastic year to put himself in position to put himself in the No 1 player in the world category next to Tiger Woods. It’s phenomenal and I m just happy he’s back in Australia. We spent some time at Merion this year at the US Open. He’s a very fine gentleman, he’s a credit to the game, he’s a credit to Australia and what he has done these last three or four weeks is a shot in the arm and hopefully it will entice other top players to come and support Australian golf. I m tickled to death that Rory went head-to-head, it s great tele vision and it s good for golf, and it s good to see that golf in Australia is getting the attention it deserves. Adam is humble and deserves every bit of attention he’s received. I think he (and surely Graham would now think McIlroy as well) has single-handedly resurrected the Open Championship of Australia that used to be considered the fifth major. It’s a credit to him and nice to see. It was nice at The Presidents Cup at Muirfield when Peter (Thomson) and I were standing together (as former International team captains) when Adam came over to us and spent some time with us. That was a touch of class, said Graham. WAYNE GRADY (1990 PGA champion) It’s been an absolutely fantastic year. It was wonderful to be there at Augusta when Adam won and feel the atmosphere and to be part of the emotion of him winning, and finally put to bed the question of why an Australian has never won. He beat another great champion in Angel Cabrera, so it was great to see to of the nicest guys in golf go head-to-head, just as it s been with Adam and Rory today. What Adam has done in coming back to Australia to play these four tournaments in a row, you can t put a price on that. It will be invaluable to the future of Australian golf. If you want to build the perfect golf so far as swing, personality and humility, just the whole person, you d build Adam Scott. IAN BAKER-FINCH (1991 Open Champion) It’s been an awesome year for Adam. He’s come back for these four events and it was a great give back to Australian golf. He could have played just a couple, but played all four. He’s brought the green jacket with him, and he’s so humble, so accommodating and everything he did ticked every box twice and to play as well as he has here is just icing on the cake. You couldn’t have written a better script, save for the last paragraph. It went close to surpassing Greg Norman s awesome performances and he thoroughly deserves to be the next, or new, Greg Norman, and he may end up better than Greg, IBF said. GEOFF OGILVY (2006 US Open Champion) He’s been incredibly good this year, his last three years have been incredibly good, ever since he won (the Australian Open) at NSW (Golf Club). He’s been getting better every week. He’s obviously got a good programme or plan he’s fulfilling he goes home and he works extremely hard and works out his schedule out really well. The reality is he hasn t won every tournament he’s played this year but in almost every tournament he’s played he’s had a chance with 18 holes to play. He’s been very impressive, a Tiger-like run if you want, Ogilvy said. So, there you have the thoughts of six of our major winners. I wrote yesterday that this weekend could be the start of one of the great rivalries of golf Scotty versus Rory and they ve made a damn good start. It will surely continue if not before, in 12 months time as McIlroy s victory will surely persuade him to return to defend the Stonehaven Cup.