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Aussie Hopes to Go Back to Back at Augusta
The green jacket traveled the world in the past year, and it is difficult to find a Masters champion who reveled in his victory and wanted to share it with total strangers more than Adam Scott.
In becoming the first Australian to win the coveted green jacket, Scott fully embraced the overwhelming joy that came with his victory when he traveled back Down Under, spending the rest of the year in full celebratory mode while also establishing himself as a major player for the foreseeable future.
It is unlikely that former Masters winners will be treated to Outback bloomin’ onions when Scott hosts the annual Champions Dinner — let’s be honest, true Aussies are not big fans of the American restaurant chain. But they do love their golf Down Under and have been heartbroken at the near-misses of their mates on this glorious stage, none more prominent than Greg Norman, who three times suffered excruciating defeats in the Augusta pines.
“He inspired a nation of golfers,” said Scott, tearing up at the mention of a mentor to many Aussie golfers. “Most of us would feel that he could have slipped a green jacket on for sure.”
Of course, with Scott winning The Masters, there would be links to the past, to be remembered afresh with a new major season just around the corner.
Steve Williams, Scott’s caddie, once worked for the Shark, and he played a key role in the victory, helping with the 10th-hole playoff read in near darkness, telling Scott to play more break on what would be the winning putt to defeat Angel Cabrera.
Williams was Tiger Woods’ longtime caddie and was on the bag three times for Woods victories at Augusta National.
The last came in 2005, nine long years ago.
Scott went on to have a stellar season, winning late in the year on the PGA Tour, then twice in Australia in addition to being part of a World Cup victory for his homeland at Royal Melbourne. His four worldwide victories helped him close the gap on Woods in the Official World Golf Ranking as 2014 began.
In sizing up his year’s work in the four biggest tournaments, Scott could only be pleased. And that is the beauty of winning one of golf’s most prestigious events. It doesn’t make the close calls any easier to take, but it does present them in a different light. Scott had three top-five finishes in major championships in 2013, which makes for a particularly excellent record when one of them is a victory.
“It’s really satisfying," Scott says. “Obviously the goal was to win one, but the real goal is to put myself in this position a lot more.
“At some point (in the 2013 majors), I think I led every major during the week. Obviously I’m peaking at the right times. It’s hard to stay there for four days and have the lead the whole time, but I feel like I’m improving still. So it’s something to build on for (the 2014) season."
Scott was among 13 players who made the cut in all four major championships and, along with fellow Aussie Jason Day, led the way with an aggregate of 2-over par for 16 major championship rounds. Of course, Scott’s Masters win makes for a nice tiebreaker in assessing the best major season.
“I was a lot over (par) at the U.S. Open," said Scott, who finished 45th at the only major in which he was not a Sunday contender. “That means I’m playing really good in the others. I think I was cumulative low (in 2012) as well in the four majors (he was top 15 in all four). If that’s the case, I’m doing something right. I wish it added up to more than one win in eight, but I’m going to try and do all the right things between now and April and go back and try and defend and try and get into contention again."
"Obviously the goal was to win one, but the real goal is to put myself in this position a lot more."
Still, the country’s inability to win at Augusta had become something of a sore spot, with Norman’s heartbreaks cited at every turn.
“It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win, just incredible," Scott said.
“It is fantastic to see him win," said Norman, who watched the telecast from his Florida home. “I believed in him. His ball-striking is probably better than anybody else’s on the planet. A lot of focus goes to the other players because he hasn’t put the credentials on the board or the runs on the board. But at the end of the day, just to watch the way he performed down the stretch, his intensity.
“Everybody questioned whether he had the intestinal fortitude, the go-get-it, but we all knew it. The players knew it. He’s got the game to do it, and I was just extremely happy for him."
Given his recent history in majors, and his form over the last several months, would anybody be surprised to see Scott keep that jacket for another year?