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Monday, April 15, 2013

From Down Under to Top of the World

Never having an Australian put on the Green Jacket at Augusta since Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts started, “a tradition unlike any other”, the Land from Down Under finally took advantage of arguably its best opportunity ever and there had been a few. Of course, “The Shark” the great Greg Norman, in 1996 blew a six-shot lead in the final round to lose by five strokes to Nick Faldo. Jim Ferrier won the PGA Championship in 1947, the first Aussie to ever win a major but three years later at Augusta in 1950 he blew a three-shot lead over Jimmy Demaret with just six holes to play and finished as the runner-up, two strokes back. 22 years later in 1972, Bruce Crampton struggled with a second round (75), which doomed him to finish tied for second with two others as Jack Nicklaus denied an Aussie victory by three strokes. But on Sunday, Australia had three horses in the race! Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott all entered the pressure packed final round in contention. Scott and Day figured to have the best shot, after finishing what else but….second in the 2011 tournament, while starting the final 18 holes on Sunday respectively in third and fourth place. While both Day and Leishman were good, solid and cool under fire, it takes great to capture the Green Jacket at the end of 72 holes and that’s what Scott turned out to be! This of course is the same Adam Scott who just nine months ago, blew the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, by making bogey on his last four holes to lose by one shot to Ernie Els. So not only had the Masters eluded him but any major victory as well, entering the final round. However the Queensland native used the lesson of buckling under the pressure of the British Open to his advantage on the most crucial holes at Augusta National on Sunday. Tied for the lead as he walked onto the 18th green, Scott drained 20-footer for a one shot advantage over Angel Cabrera. From the emotion that escaped his cool persona at that moment, he like millions of others thought Scott had final exorcised not only his but all of his home countries demons with one smooth stroke. But in only true Masters fashion, that exuberance lasted just a few minutes as Cabrera landed the approach shot of the tournament onto the green in the final group. His tap in birdie tied Scott at -9 under, robbing Australia of its moment and Scott of his accomplishment. After the two both pared the first playoff hole also on 18, came possible birdie putts on the 10th. While Cabrera just missed a 15-footer, Scott sent an entire nation into celebration, toasting their Foster’s as his 12-foot winner was pure! After almost 80 years of tradition, Butler Cabin’s guest of honor the man slipping on the legendary Green Jacket, hailed from Australia. With the near misses of so many from the Land Down Under, Sunday’s championship finish performed by Scott was a perfect fit.

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