• The Masters

More than a shade of Norman in Scott success

Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com
April 15, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
The first Aussie in green

Adam Scott is a gene pool lottery winner, could do an instructional video on cool and lives in Switzerland for tax reasons. Plus, he's one of the 10 nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Everybody - women, corporations, his native Australia - loves him. And now, at long last, so does a major.

The Masters fell for Scott in a big way Sunday. It played hard to get for a while, but then let the Aussie sweep it off its feet after 72 holes of regulation and then two play-off holes. Then again, it has been playing hard to get for the Aussies since the beginning of this tournament in 1934.

That noise you heard early Sunday evening was the sound of the Masters patrons after Scott sank a 12-foot birdie putt in the growing darkness of Augusta National to beat Angel Cabrera for the Green Jacket.

That noise you heard immediately after that was the entire country of Australia popping the tops off bottles of Victoria Bitter. It was Monday morning there when Scott's winning play-off putt fell into the cup on the 10th hole. Hangovers to follow.

"It's amazing that it's my destiny to be the first Aussie to win," said Scott, who wore a smile and a stunned look on his face, as if he still couldn't believe this was real. "Just incredible."

Scott became a national hero by doing what great Aussie players such as the tormented Greg Norman couldn't do: win a Masters. Norman finished second here three different times and lost in ways that were beyond cruel.

In 1986, Norman was on the wrong end of the Jack Nicklaus Time Machine Tour. In 1987, he watched as Augusta native Larry Mize canned a 140-foot play-off chip from off the 11th green. In 1996, he began Sunday's round in the final pairing and six strokes ahead of playing partner Nick Faldo, but lost to Faldo by five.

Scott is/was Norman. Sort of. Norman was young, 10 kinds of handsome and had a golf game that caused Aussie boys to pester their mums and dads for lessons. But for all his gifts and wealth, golf kept short-sheeting him.

Same thing with Scott. For years the experts had predicted multiple major victories for him. He had everything: the demeanor, the swing, the Swiss chalet. And the Norman-like heartbreak.

Scott was making a beeline toward Butler Cabin and the Green Jacket ceremony in 2011 when Charl Schwartzel decided to make four consecutive birdies on the final four holes. Scott finished T-2.

And then the 2012 Open Championship channelled its inner Norman and stuck it to Scott. Leading by four shots with four holes remaining in the tournament, Scott bogeyed each one and lost to Ernie Els by a stroke.

Fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy tweeted after the carnage: "I am happy for Ernie, but I feel sick right now."

Scott handled that loss with the same elegance and class that he handled Sunday's win at Augusta. Maybe that's why it seemed that the galleries were pulling perhaps just a tiny bit harder for Scott than Cabrera. Nothing against the 43-year-old Argentinian, but he already had a Green Jacket (2009), as well as a US Open (2007).

Adam Scott has the Green Jacket that Greg Norman never got his hands on © Getty Images
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Winning a Masters isn't supposed to be easy. Cabrera certainly didn't make it that way for Scott. The former Presidents Cup team-mates hit shots down the stretch that deserved their own commemorative oil paintings.

Cabrera doesn't speak much English, but he didn't have to after Scott hit his second shot to 12 feet on the second play-off hole. He turned toward Scott as they walked up the fairway and gave him a thumbs up. Not long after defending champion Bubba Watson had slipped the Green Jacket on Scott, Cabrera told reporters through an interpreter, "That's how golf is."

Weird. Last July at Royal Lytham, after Scott had been kneecapped by the game again, he had said, "That's why they call it golf."

Scott hugged his father, Phil, after the victory. He basked in the cheers. He shared moments with his caddie Steve Williams, who helped him read the birdie putt that won him the Masters.

"I could hardly see the green in the darkness," Scott said. So he called Williams, who had caddied for Tiger Woods in 13 of his majors victories (three of them here), over for a second opinion.

"Do you think it's more than a cup?" Scott asked. "It's at least two cups," Williams said. "It's going to break more than you think."

"I'm good with that," Scott said. And then he was good with the putt.

There were the inevitable questions about Scott's use of the broomstick putter. This is the fourth major out of the past six won by someone using a long putter. It is the first in the history of The Masters. But that's an issue for another day. This was Scott's day, not to be shared with an equipment question.

And it was Norman's day too. A gracious Scott made sure of that. "Most of us would feel that he could have slipped a Green Jacket on for sure," Scott said of his close friend and mentor. "And I said part of this is for him because he's given me so much time and inspiration and belief."

Norman issued a statement on his website. Check that, it was more a verbal bear hug than anything else. "Adam is a great player and I'm confident this victory will catapult him to win more majors," Norman said. "It will not surprise me if he wins more championships than any other Australian golfer in history."

Scott, the man who has the looks, the Swiss bank account and the conga line of high-profile dates, now has something much more modest-- a green sportcoat. It was worth the wait and the heartache.

"Everything fell my way in the end, I guess," he said. "And you just never know." Now he does.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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