Date: April 16, 2013
Author: Peter Stone / Golf Australia

Stone: Scott win achieves the impossible

Nice guys don t always finish second and today a nation and the golfing world for that matter salutes Adam Scott and his achievement of becoming the first Australian to win The Masters and don the now legendary green jacket. It was becoming a Quixotic dream and, like most dreams, a damn infuriating one at that, even a nightmare and his boyhood idol Greg Norman admitted he had a tear in his eyes but for all the very good reasons. The impossible is only achieved if one attempts the impossible and Scott did just that with all the style, grace and humility of a genuine nice guy and the raw emotion that tumbled out at the end will forever remain etched in the memory bank. Just how much Scott s win parallels the triumph of another one of golf’s nice guys Wayne Grady in the 1990 US PGA championship at Shoal Creek is uncanny. A year earlier in the British Open at Royal Troon, Grady led for 71 holes but faltered to finish in a three-way tie with Norman who forced his way into the four-hole playoff by beginning the final round with six straight pars and American Mark Calcavecchia who somehow stole the claret jug like a thief in the night. My story led the front page of the old Melbourne Herald afternoon broadsheet newspaper with the banner headline: Tragedy at Troon. It was perhaps a little over the top, for no-one had been killed or severely maimed but, yes, it hurt every Australian golf fan. That night, Grades and I, plus a couple of others, met up at the Symington pub just outside Troon where we had a few pints and a homemade pie just as we d done every night through the week. He shrugged it off, but we knew it was hurting inside. His redemption came at Shoal Creek the following year. Last year, of course, Scott famously bogeyed the final four holes of the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes to give South African Ernie Els, who closed with a brilliant 68, a one-shot victory. Many wrote and said Scott choked, but I vigorously argued he did not. Sure, he made an error of judgment with club selection on the 72nd hole and also missed a short putt on the 70th hole but to say Scott choked was to demean the quality of Els play that day. Scott held his head high and the mental wound was so minimal that he tied 11th in the final major of the year the PGA and now he, like Grady, has found his redemption the following year. Twitter was alive with universal praise from his peers among the players, famous names from other fields of endeavor and just ordinary folk, all of them rejoicing a victory by a nice guy. Norman, not a prolific user of social media, put out at statement on both Facebook and Twitter and, in one interview with the PGA Tour s Melanie Hauser who last year sat with the Shark watching the British Open final round, told her of his emotions as the Masters came alive on the back nine on Sunday as it invariably does. I am so happy for Adam. I think he has the capability of winning a lost more majors. I want Adam to be the most successful golfer in Australian history. I m very, very proud of him I was a very proud stepfather in a way. He probably had more pressure on him today than any other player on the planet because he was playing not only for millions of people in Australia he was playing against an entire field like every other player but there was more pressure on him because no Australian has ever done it. Scott first played the Masters 10 years ago and I wrote a preview piece for the Sydney Sun-Herald in which Scott s father Phil revealed his son had saved him from drowning after a jet ski accident just off South Stradbroke Island. Scott Snr tackled a wave far bigger than his dodgy knee could handle and was crashed into the surf. Within an instant, the 2013 Masters Champion was by his side to rescue him. Doctors were worried for three days that the broken V1 vertebra might lead to paralysis, as he had no movement in his legs. Thank God for Adam, Phil Scott told me. Adam Scott simply shrugged it off. It was what any son would do for their father. Never has he been involved in any controversy, save for defending his caddie Steve Williams for the a racial comment he made about his former employer Tiger Woods during the annual caddie dinner at the HSBC Champions tournament in China in 2011, an evening Williams thought where everything said was off the record. Scott was urged to sack Williams but he stood by his man, just as Williams did down the stretch at Augusta National on Sunday. Back at the turn of the century, comparisons were drawn between Scott and his amateur contemporary Aaron Baddeley with the latter being most vocal about his desire to become the world No 1 while Scott went along in his own quiet way. It was in 2001 that the two young guns of Australian golf were selected to represent Australia in the World Cup in Japan and later that year at the Australian PGA championship at Coolum Scott, who d won his first European Tour event earlier that year was requested to attend a pre-tournament media conference for the third week in a row after the preceding Masters and Open events. In telling this story, I&aposm not out to suggest I am a mongrel when it comes to asking questions in interviews but rather to emphasise what a nice bloke Scott is. Before the interview, Scott and I were eating a pie in the media dining area and I said: What the hell are we going to ask you? It’s all been asked in the past two weeks. He replied: Ask me anything. Well, I d heard Scott and Baddeley didn t spend too much time playing practice rounds together before the World Cup competition started with Baddeley preferring to go round with Spain s Sergio Garcia. I put the question, not to create bad blood between them, but rather making a little mischief. Scott just smiled and looked at me before saying: Well, I did tell you to ask me anything. No, there was nothing to it. Aaron did his own thing. They finished tied 11th behind the formidable pairing of South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Yes, Adam Scott is a nice bloke and no longer do Australians have to wake in the early morning each second week of April wondering if this is to be the year an Australian ends the Augusta hoodoo. But, here s three parting thoughts: No 1 Adam Scott is now the only man in 2013 who has the chance to achieve the modern day Grand Slam that is the Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA. Last year his finishes in those four tournaments were tied eighth, tied 15th, second and tied 11th that shows he was in there with a shot in each of the majors. No 2 With the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the USGA moving to ban the anchoring of putters to any part of the body (i.e. effecting banning the use of long and belly putters) four of the last six majors have been won using the big/bigger stick. No 3 Woods finished tied fourth at Augusta in company with Australian Marc Leishman on Sunday but should have disqualified himself after dropping incorrectly in the in the second round. Golf has always been about integrity; Woods showed none in accepting the rules committee decision to penalise him two shots rather that to DQ him. The Masters didn t need Woods to boost the weekend TV ratings, Scott and Angel Cabrera did that magnificently.