They will be dancing in the streets of Australia today. Adam Scott has won the Masters Tournament.
Finally, an Australian has waltzed into Masters lore by winning the coveted Green Jacket at Augusta National Golf Club.
A fiercely proud sporting nation’s long wait ended Sunday when Scott sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to defeat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera to win the 77th Masters Tournament.
Finally, a golfer from Down Under was on top of the world at Augusta National. And today Waltzing Matilda, the unofficial anthem of Australia, is resonating loudly and clearly throughout a continent.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Scott said. “It seems a long way away from a couple of years ago here and even last July when I was trying to win another major. It fell my way today. It was incredible. It’s incredible to be in this position.
“Everything fell my way in the end, I guess. You just never know. I just kept plugging away. I didn’t know if it was going to happen through nine. A good back nine here solves a lot. I’m so proud of myself and everyone who has helped me. I’m a proud Australian and I hope this sits really well back at home – and even in New Zealand."
Scott can be sure it will.
“I guess when I get home I’ll find out,” he said. “We’re a proud sporting country, like to think we’re the best at anything, like any proud sporting country. This was one thing in golf we hadn’t been able to achieve. It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win.”
With Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman all in the top five when the final round began, the odds favored a breakthrough for Australia. That’s what Scott said after Saturday’s round. And of the three, Scott was the most tested and most likely. The eyes of a nation, and the pressure that comes with it, were on him. He was expected to lead the charge, and he did.
Scott grew up an admirer of Greg Norman, and when Norman lost the Masters by squandering a six-stroke lead to Nick Faldo in 1996, Scott, then 16, agonized along with his entire nation. It was Norman’s third runner-up finish at Augusta, following his near-misses in 1986 and 1987.
“Greg Norman inspired a nation of golfers,” said Scott, 32. “He was an icon in Australia, everything about the way he handled himself. He’s devoted so much time to myself and other young Australian golfers who came after him.
“Most of us would feel that he could have slipped a Green Jacket on for sure. I said part of this is for him. I drew on that a lot today. I somehow managed to stay in each shot when I needed to.”
Fate was on Scott’s side when his second shot at the par-5 13th hole hit short of the green, rolled precariously back towards a tributary of Rae’s Creek but stopped on the embankment. He got up-and-down for a birdie that sparked a stretch of three birdies on the final six holes.
“I had no momentum on the day at that point,” Scott said. “That was a great break. Even going down the 15th, I thought it was far away still. ... At 18, for a split second, let myself think I could have won. Then Angel hit an incredible shot.”
Scott and Cabrera each finished at 9-under-par 279 – and what a finish it was. First Scott birdied the 72nd hole with an 18-foot putt to take the lead and force Cabrera to summon up a similar feat to force a playoff. And the fearless Argentine did just that, hitting his approach shot to within three feet and quickly holing the putt.
Both players parred the first playoff hole, No. 18, in similar fashion, hitting their approaches short of the green and chipping to close range. Cabrera’s chip shot for birdie nearly went in the hole.
“My heart was about to stop, thinking is this it?” Scott said.
Cabrera and Scott proceeded to No. 10, where Bubba Watson won in heroic fashion a year ago by hooking a low wedge shot out of the trees on the right and onto the green. This time, both players found the fairway with their drives (Cabrera with a long iron) and hit good approach shots.
Cabrera, putting from about 15 feet, left his birdie attempt on the right lip of the cup. That set the stage for Scott, whose rise to major champion status has been long anticipated. He seized the opportunity by sinking his 12-foot putt. He thought to himself, “It’s time for me to step up and see how much I want this.”
Cabrera said he had no doubt that Scott would win a major someday soon. The two have played together frequently, including as teammates and partners on the International team at the Presidents Cup.
“Adam is a great person, a great player,” said Cabrera, a two-time major champion who won the Masters in a playoff in 2009.
“In a playoff, one-on-one, there’s got to be only one winner. And it was him. ... It was just a matter of time.”
Scott has come full circle since last summer at the British Open. At Royal Lytham and St. Annes, he had his hands firmly on the Claret Jug before he made bogey on each of the last four holes and lost to Ernie Els. Scott handled the defeat with class and dignity, further suggesting that he is in a special class, a class worthy of a major championship. Two years ago in the Masters he was runner-up to Charl Schwartzel.
Waltzing Matilda is a haunting melody accompanied by original lyrics, written in 1895, about an itinerant worker who walked Australia’s bush with a bag – a matilda – on his shoulder. It has been recorded more than any song in Australian history.
Scott has traveled the world playing golf, a bag on his shoulder. Today, Waltzing Matilda will be played again and again Down Under. It will be in honor of Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion.