ADAM Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters after beating two-time major champion Angel Cabrera in a play-off on a dramatic final day in the event’s 77th staging at
Both players birdied the 72nd hole – Scott holing from 20 feet across the green and Cabrera hitting his approach to three feet – before the 32-year-old from Adelaide repeated the feat at the second extra hole.
Four years ago, Cabrera had won a play-off on the same green but, after just failing with his birdie attempt from around 20 feet, it was Scott who claimed the Green Jacket this time as he holed from around half that distance.
“It seems a long way away from last July,” said the new champion of losing a four-shot lead as he was pipped for the Open Championship by Ernie Els at Lytham last summer. “It fell my way today. It is incredible to be in this position and I am honoured. Australia is a proud nation but this is one notch on the belt we have never managed to get – until now.”
Scott’s win wiped out the pain endured by the sporting-mad Australian population when Greg Norman blew a six-shot lead in the final round of the 1996 Masters. “Greg has been incredible to me,” added Scott. “He inspired me and a lot of young Australian golfers and part of this definitely belongs to him.”
The triumph means that all four majors have now been won by players using long putters after the previous successes by Keegan Bradley (2011 USPGA), Webb Simpson (2012 US Open) and Els (2012 Open).
Cabrera, who almost chipped in for a birdie at the first extra hole, was dignified in defeat. “That’s how golf is,” said the 43-year-old from Argentina. “I almost won it with my chip at the 18th [the first extra hole] but Adam is a good winner and I’m happy for him.”
Scott’s fellow Aussie Jason Day, who also came close to winning the season’s first major when he was second behind South African Charl Schwartzel in 2011, looked to be on course for victory when three birdies in a row from the 13th saw him open up a two-shot lead.
But, as Scott closed the gap with a birdie at the 15th, the 25-year-old Queenslander immediately dropped a shot at the 16th then failed to get up and down from a bunker at the next. He finished third, just ahead of Tiger Woods and Marc Leishman. “Bogeying 16th and 17th was not what I wanted to do – I think the pressure got to me a bit,” admitted Day.
Woods, who’d been hit with a two-shot penalty for taking an illegal drop in the second round, came home in three-under 33 but was never really in with a chance of claiming his first Green Jacket since 2005.
“I had a hard time getting accustomed to the speed of the greens,” said the world No 1. “They were much slower before it rained, then they changed dramatically. The putts just weren’t running out.”
It was another chance missed in his bid to finally get off the 14-mark and edge closer to beating Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.
“I played well but, unfortunately, I just did not make enough putts,” added Woods, who’d arrived here on the back of three wins already this year.
“I had an opportunity, and if I’d shot 65 today I still thought I’d have a chance of winning.”