Australians endured a nervous wait before lauding a defining moment in the nation’s sporting history as Adam Scott secured the country’s first win at golf’s Masters Tournament.
Scott, 32, beat Angel Cabrera of Argentina in a playoff at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, yesterday to become the first Australian to take the winner’s green jacket in the major championship’s 77 editions. It was also his first victory at the sport’s four biggest tournaments.
“I have never been so nervous in my life,” Dale Durant, the chief executive officer of the Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club on the Gold Coast where Scott is the touring professional, said in a telephone interview. “It’s fantastic to see him win a major as everyone expected him to be the man to break through. He’s had a few near misses and his time has finally come.”
The Masters had been the only one of the four majors that had never been won by an Australian. Until yesterday, Geoff Ogilvy’s victory at the 2006 U.S. Open had been the country’s most-recent success.
Scott and Jason Day, who finished two shots off the lead in third yesterday, tied for second in 2011. Greg Norman was a runner-up three times in Augusta, most famously in 1996, when he blew a six-shot lead in the final round and was beaten by Nick Faldo. Australians Jack Newton (1980) and Bruce Crampton (1972) also finished second at the Masters.
Beer With Norman
Scott said he plans to share a celebratory beer with the 58-year-old Norman, whom he described as an “icon” who inspired a generation of Australian golfers.
“A phone conversation isn’t going to do it for us,” Scott said at a news conference. “We are really close.”
According to Norman, whose two major victories came at the British Open in 1986 and 1993, Scott fulfilled the major-winning potential he first showed as a teenager.
“What happened today I observed in the eyes of Adam when he was 15,” Norman posted on Twitter. “He deserves everything he gets from this win. Proud of him.”
Norman, who lives in Florida, added on his Facebook page that he had been “on the edge of my seat all afternoon” watching the Masters.
Marc Leishman was the third of the four Australians who began the tournament to still be in contention for the victory on the final day. Leishman finished in a tie for fourth place with Tiger Woods at 5-under.
“We’ve finally got a green jacket and we’ve clearly got the talent to go on to many more major wins,” Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia, said in a statement. “Beyond today, this will open up plenty of doors for Adam and Australian golf. All of Australia is talking about golf today, and that’s a huge opportunity for our game.”
Politicians were among those to lead the plaudits after Scott sealed the victory with a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole at 9:38 a.m. on Australia’s east coast. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan and opposition leader Tony Abbott all posted their congratulations on Twitter.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. interrupted a radio interview with Gillard to give updates on Scott’s progress. Sanctuary Cove CEO Durant said he started watching at 4:20 a.m., and his wife kept him updated as he was driving to the clubhouse, where he watched the final six holes.
“Adam Scott’s triumph at Augusta immediately joins the ranks of the truly great Australian sporting moments,” Gillard said in an e-mailed statement. Scott “held his nerve and prevailed in the most intense pressure imaginable on any sporting field.”
Golf Australia wrote on Twitter that it was “quite simply, the most magnificent Monday imaginable” after Scott ended Australia’s wait for a win at Augusta by becoming the 10th Australian to secure a major championship. It came nine months after he blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play at the British Open and lost out by one stroke.
The victory is also likely to send him atop BRW’s annual list of the top 50 sports earners in Australia, the magazine said on its website. Scott, who picked up the winner’s check of $1.44 million, earned A$10.5 million ($10.9 million) last year according to BRW, putting him third on the list behind basketballer Andrew Bogut on A$13.5 million and Formula One driver Mark Webber, who earned A$12 million.
Incentive clauses in Scott’s endorsement contracts with companies including Rolex Group and Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz are likely to put him on top, BRW said.
The recognition and rewards that come with his Masters win are no more than Scott deserves, according to the PGA of Australia’s Thorburn.
“For years he’s carried the weight of expectation and answered countless questions about when his time would come,” Thorburn added. “Finally, it’s here.”
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