Australians rejoice after Scott’s Masters victory
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The roar that followed Adam Scott’s Masters-winning putt at Augusta National could only be heard on the television broadcast so many thousand miles away on Australia’s east coast.
But distance doesn’t really matter Down Under.
Within seconds of Scott’s 12-foot putt finding the cup on the second playoff hole at Augusta, fans who had been awake since dawn Monday and were either on their way — or purposely late — to work did a lot of celebrating on their own.
Commuters cheered on buses, and car horns tooted. Even a radio interview with the prime minister on the national broadcaster was interrupted to give updates on the Masters — well before the result was known.
Golf fans everywhere in this sports-mad country rejoiced.
Shopkeepers at Peregian Beach, near a resort course designed by Adam’s father, Phil Scott, spoke of the pride of having a Masters champion from their neck of the woods.
No Australian had ever won the green jacket, although a lot had come close at Augusta. The 32-year-old Scott tied for second with fellow Australian Jason Day two years ago.
It almost seemed as though it wouldn’t happen and Greg Norman, himself on the receiving end of so many painful Masters memories, wondered if the heavens had decreed that an Australian would never win at Augusta.
Scott thought he had the Masters, and his first major title, clinched when he made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of regulation and was sitting in the scoring room waiting for Angel Cabrera to finish off his round in the final group Sunday.
But Cabrera produced a great shot of his own, a 7-iron to 3 feet for birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
“The golf gods can’t be this cruel to Australia,” Norman said in a text to friends who were watching nervously.
The preparations for a possible Australian win began overnight Sunday on social media, hours before Scott, Day and fellow Australian Mark Leishman began the day as three of the top five on the leaderboard.
Aussie golf fans even developed their own Twitter hashtag: itsourtime. And Scott obviously thought it was, too.
Tom Watson, who missed the cut at Augusta this year, tweeted: “You showed great courage Adam ... and resiliency from last year’s disappointment at Lytham.” Scott bogeyed the last four holes last year to lose the British Open by a shot to Ernie Els.
Jarrod Lyle, an Australian golfer recovering from leukemia, posted: “you (censored) beauty Scotty. Great win well deserved.”
Jessica Korda, a member of the LPGA tour who won last year’s Women’s Australian Open, tweeted: “Adam Scott!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million girls just fell in love.”
Scott and Day came close to winning in 2011 at Augusta, but were left stranded by South African champion Charl Schwartzel’s late run of four consecutive birdies.
Another Australian, 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, was also in the hunt that year, but finished tied for fourth, four shots behind. Surprisingly, Ogilvy didn’t qualify this year.
Norman made an art form out of not winning at Augusta. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine to take the green jacket from him. In 1987, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff to leave Norman second. In 1996, a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo wasn’t enough when Norman shot a final-round 78.
In his victory speech Sunday night, Scott was gracious in thanking his mentor: “Greg Norman has been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia. Part of this definitely belongs to him.”
Reached at his home in south Florida, Norman told The Associated Press: “I’m over the moon. Sitting there watching Adam, I had a tear in my eye. That’s what it was all about. It was Adam doing it for himself, and for the country.”
Norman was so nervous watching TV that he said he went to the gym when the final group made the turn. He headed home for the last four holes and was texting with friends as his emotions shifted with every putt.
“I can only imagine how everyone else felt when I was playing,” Norman said.
Australian politicians quickly got in on the act, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying: “By any measure this is a historic day for Australian sport.” Sports Minister Kate Lundy said the high-profile win would inspire other Australians to take up the sport as golf returns to the Olympics at Rio in 2016.
Keith Urban, the Nashville-based country music star who grew up in Queensland state not far from Scott, tweeted: “ADAM SCOTT!!!! You are the man! Congrats mate. -KU.”
A lot of Urban’s mates appeared to agree, with nearly 400 congratulatory Scott retweets sent out. A tweet from British boy band One Direction member Niall Horan was retweeted 12,000 times in less than three hours.
“Yeaaahhhh Adam Scott ya legend! Doin it for the Aussies!” Horan said.
The win seemed to transcend all sports in Australia, with former star cricketer Shane Warne describing Scott’s winning putt as “absolutely awesome.” Rugby union international Quade Cooper hashtagged “fistpump” and said Scott’s new piece of wardrobe was the “coolest green jacket going around.”
There was a minor faux pas Monday from the sport’s national governing body, the PGA of Australia. Late in the final round, it sent out a tweet saying: “We need a mistake from the big hitting Argentine down 13.”
A few minutes later, the PGA was criticized by a California follower: “Really? (hash)badsportsmanship.”
The PGA of Australia quickly tweeted a reply: “We shouldn’t wish bad luck for anyone and the previous tweet was bad sportsmanship Clearly let our enthusiasm get in the way.”
Cabrera hit into the creek on the 13th and later bogeyed the hole to fall out of the lead.
Social media was set to be the haven for suggestions for next year’s champions dinner at Augusta, with Scott getting to call the shots on the menu.
Will it be crocodile canapés, emu burgers, kangaroo steaks or even koala-shaped cupcakes for dessert? Whatever, it should probably be pretty interesting after waiting all these years.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this story from Augusta, Georgia.
Follow Dennis Passa on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DennisPassa