GOLD COAST, Australia — On the same Tuesday a sports-obsessed nation annually takes the day off to celebrate a horse race, some invited guests got the rarest of all Australian sporting gifts – a glimpse of the green jacket.
Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott donned the jacket for the first time publicly on Australian soil at a corporate dinner with fellow golf stars at Royal Pines Resort before this week’s Australian PGA Championship. It is the most significant sporting prize an Australian had never won until Scott’s historic playoff victory over Angel Cabrera in April.
Scott welcomed all comers.
“I think this is the best part about it, is hearing where everyone was when I made the putt or how they felt,” Scott said. “That’s what makes it even more special for me is hearing their stories or getting to see the jacket because just as a golf fan myself, seeing it for the first time was amazing. I like the fact that I can share that with everyone else.”
It’s hard to convey the magnitude of Scott’s win on the Australian sports psyche. The first Australian to play in the Masters was Jim Ferrier in 1940, and the Sydney native blew a four-shot lead after three rounds in 1950.
But the Australian complex regarding the Masters really began when Greg Norman became the poster figure for Aussie heartbreak at Augusta with nine top-10 showings, including excruciating runner-up finishes in 1986, ’87 and ’96.
“It became a thing the top Aussie players had to deal with every year,” said Peter Lonard, who played in five Masters.
Golf is one of the sports Australians consider themselves good at, and the green jacket became the most elusive prize.
“We’d won the Ashes in cricket, World Cups (rugby and cricket), all the tennis grand slams, all the other golf majors, Olympic gold medals, America’s Cup sailing, Cadel Evans even won the Tour de France,” said Marc Leishman, who played with Scott in the final round at Augusta National Golf Club and joined the eventual winner in a “C’mon Aussie!” fist pump after he holed a dramatic birdie putt on the 72nd hole. “We’d won everything but hadn’t won the Masters. It was obviously a huge moment to get that monkey off Australia’s back and get the green jacket.”
Seeing it take place on television 15 time zones away last April was one thing, but seeing the green jacket up close was something to be savored.
Making his first homecoming trip, Scott promised his native land what the local media are calling a four-week “green jacket roadshow.” Starting with this week’s Australian PGA in his boyhood home of Queensland, through the Aussie Masters and World Cup in consecutive weeks at Royal Melbourne and capped at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, Scott will sweep through his country’s three largest states in a monthlong celebration.
“I’m really going to enjoy it,” Scott told Australian golf commentator Luke Elvy upon his arrival home last Friday. “It’s the first time that I don’t have to prove myself. … I don’t feel like I’m coming back for a parade. My focus is to win each event.”
Scott’s mates and colleagues enjoyed the first look at the iconic blazer. He put it on before walking into his Adam Scott Co. offices in Sanctuary Cove the day after his arrival. Friends and family saw it at his home.
“I don’t get sick of it, and I’ve seen it a lot,” said Phil Scott, his father.
The real show started Tuesday night, when he wore it to a pair of corporate events. Scott was presented the keys to the city today by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate in a ceremony immediately after his pro-am round.
“I love the reaction people get when they see it,” Scott said before the week started. “I might just put it on after the rounds and sign away. … I want to make sure I get to share it with as many people as possible.”
That’s a far cry from last year’s winner, Bubba Watson, who aside from a post-Masters media blitz and a brief pre-Masters photo shoot always kept the jacket closeted.
“None of my friends have seen it,” Watson said in March. “I don’t let anybody see it or take pictures of it out of respect for the tournament and … for the members of Augusta National.”
Scott, however, has relished his time that only the reigning Masters champion gets with the coat.
“He is so proud of wearing that jacket. He’s very happy to put it on,” his father said. “I think he’s very, very happy to be home and putting that jacket on and showing people. You only get it by winning that tournament. You can’t buy one. Why wouldn’t you be proud of it and sharing it out there? He’s extremely comfortable in it.”
The master of ceremonies for Tuesday’s dinner, Mark Howard, was a little awestruck when Scott sat down in the coat.
“It’s real,” Scott told him, offering a sleeve to touch.
Scott discussed some of the preferred rules of “jacket etiquette,” such as not taking it to the local dry cleaners or a night “out on the turps” – Australian slang for drinking alcohol.
“Nothing stopping me from wearing it around the house at all points of the day and certainly to functions like this,” Scott said.
The jacket display was a treat that drew generous applause.
“Truth is there hasn’t been one down here before. We’ve not seen it,” his father said. “We’ve seen the claret jug. We’ve seen the U.S. Open trophy. We’ve seen the – what is it? – Wanamaker Trophy. We haven’t seen the jacket. So now we have. I think it’s a great thing for Aussie golfers to see it and feel it.”
Leishman agrees: “Just seeing it will give people a bit of a tingle. I’ve seen it a couple times now. He took it to a dinner one night at the Presidents Cup. To have something with that much history behind it, it’s pretty cool that he can do that.”
Scott is reluctant to return it to Augusta National when he goes back in April.
“The goal is to win it again and I’ll get to parade around for another year,” he said.