Amazingly, no Australian had ever won a Masters.
Astonishingly, Adam Scott had to win it twice in one day.
The much-liked Aussie had flirted with winning a major in recent years, both in Augusta and the United Kingdom. On Sunday, he seemingly did it twice – first with a spectacular around-the-rim birdie on the final hole of regulation that most of the planet had to figure earned him the win. But the lion-hearted Angel Cabrera gamely followed Scott’s theatrics with a shot from the fairway to just feet from the pin for another birdie – forcing a playoff after Scott had for all appearances celebrated a victory.
The players then traded pars on the first playoff hole – and after Cabrera came within an inch or two of a birdie on the second hole, Scott glided his 15-footer in for a dramatic win.
And a second celebration – this time for good.
Scott uses a controversial “belly” putter that is anchored against the body – a device which the guardians of the game have yet to decide to allow going forward. But in this case, it’s not the belly putter, it’s what’s in the belly.
Adam Scott showed the world he had the guts of a champion.
Ninety-three players crowded the field at the start of the tournament on Thursday. Only one could come out on top. But two came out winners: Scott and Cabrera not only put on an exhibition of golf mastery in their tense duel, but also of class, dignity and sincere sportsmanship. You can see why these two are so highly regarded on tour.
In the process, they rocked several continents at once, more than any earthquake could. Argentina was hoping for Cabrera’s second green jacket, while Australia woke up to its first.
We couldn’t be happier for the land Down Under. It has given birth to some of the best golfers in the world, who had won at each of the other three majors. It’s hard to believe they hadn’t won at Augusta.
But the wait was worth it, and Adam Scott is a particularly deserving countryman to bring home its first Masters trophy.
The game of golf also won big on Sunday, with yet another
riveting, down-to-the-wire Masters. Nor was the tournament decided on an errant shot or a miss of an easy putt. Adam Scott beat Angel’s Cabrera’s best – and the affable South American could only tip his cap, heartily applaud the victor and walk away knowing he’d given it his all.
Consider, too: After Sunday, more young golfers in Australia and Argentina will no doubt be inspired to pick up the game. Even as two titans of the sport went at it, golf itself grew.
And then there’s the world’s most populous nation, China – where young and old alike had to be moved and motivated by the stirring performance of 14-year-old Tianlang Guan, the youngest Masters player ever, and youngest to make the cut in Masters and PGA Tour history. He also ended up as the amateur with the lowest score this Masters.
All of these things came together to overshadow the unfortunate controversy over Tiger Woods’ illegal drop after a shot that went into the water at the 15th hole on Friday. He was lucky to finish the tournament, after admitting that he’d purposely dropped his ball several yards back from the site of his original shot in order to improve his chances on his next shot. That’s a clear violation of the rules, and he could easily have been disqualified before the third round on Saturday. Woods got off with a well-earned two-stroke penalty.
In the end, the Masters lucked out even more than Tiger did: Had he won – and he came very close, tying for fourth – the controversy would’ve been the story of the tournament, and not a happy one.
Instead, by the winds of fate and the proficient play of two consummate gentlemen and virtuoso masters of the game, history is left with a much more ennobling tale.
It will make a great read for years to come.