Scott beats Cabrera in playoff to win Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Adam Scott finished the job this time and put an end to more than a half-century of Australian misery at the Masters.
With the two biggest putts of his career, Scott holed a 20-footer for birdie on the 18th hole of regulation that put him into a playoff with Angel Cabrera and then won his first major championship Sunday with a 12-footer for birdie on the second extra hole.
“We like to think we're the best at everything. Golf is a big sport at home, and this is the one thing in golf we hadn't been able to achieve,” Scott said. “It's amazing that it's my destiny to be the first Australian to win. It's incredible.”
Scott leaned back and thrust his arms in the air after the putt dropped on the 10th hole, a celebration for all of Australia and personal redemption for himself.
It was only last summer when Scott threw away the British Open by making bogey on his last four holes to lose by one shot to Ernie Els. The 32-year-old handled that defeat with dignity and pledged to finish stronger given another chance. “Next time — I'm sure there will be a next time — I can do a better job of it,” he said that day.
Scott was close to perfect, and he had to be with Cabrera delivering some brilliance of his own.
Moments after Scott made his 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 3-under-par 69 to take a one-shot lead, Cabrera answered with an approach that plopped 3 feet from the cup. That gave him an easy birdie and a 2-under 70. They finished at 9-under 279.
Both chipped close for par on the 18th in the first playoff hole, and Cabrera's 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th grazed the right side of the cup.
With his long putter anchored against his chest, Scott's putt was true all the way. The Masters had been the only major that never had a champion use a long putter. Scott's win means four of the last six major champions used a putter pressed against their belly or chest, a stroke that might be banned in 2016.
What mattered more to Scott was that the Masters had been the only major an Australian had never won. He was among dozens of golfers who routinely rose in the early hours of Monday morning for the telecast, only to watch a horror show. The leading character was Greg Norman, who had four good chances to win, none better than when he blew a six-shot lead on the last day to Nick Faldo in 1996.
“Australia is a proud sporting nation, and this is one notch in the belt we never got,” Scott said. “It's amazing that it came down to me today. But there's one guy who inspired a nation of golfers, and that's Greg Norman. He's been incredible to me and all the great golfers. Part of this belongs to him.”
Scott and Cabrera flashed a thumbs-up to each other after their shots into the 10th hole in the playoff, and they walked off the 10th green with their arms around each other when it was over.
“Such is golf,” Cabrera said. “Adam is a good winner.”
Scott didn't make a bogey after the first hole, and he really didn't miss a shot the rest of the day on a rainy Sunday at Augusta. He just couldn't get a putt to fall until it really mattered. Then, he made two of them.
Scott hit the ball beautifully the entire day and watched one putt after another turn away from the hole. But he also received perhaps the biggest break of the tournament when his shot into the par-5 13th spun back off the green and was headed down the slope into the tributary of Rae's Creek when it suddenly stopped. He got up-and-down for birdie, and he two-putted for birdie on the 15th.