Aussies seek Masters first

Aussies seek Masters first

April 3rd, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Adam Scott of Australia waits on the second hole green during the third round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament on Saturday, March 10, 2012 in Doral, Fla.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Adam Scott and Jason Day are in the same generation of Australian golfers.

Both admired countryman Greg Norman as youngsters growing up. Scott turned professional in 2000; Day earned his first paycheck six years later.

Norman entered the final round of the 1996 Masters six shots ahead of Nick Faldo and seven ahead of Phil Mickelson -- and lost in an agonizing, epic Sunday collapse.

A similar storyline played out one year ago at Augusta National as Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy surged into Sunday with a four-shot lead. Then he melted under the pressure and left the door wide open for two of the most exciting hours of recent major golf history.

Eight players owned at least a share of the lead in that final round. South Africa's Charl Schwartzel made birdies on the last four holes and won the tournament at 14-under-par 274.

That left former leaders Scott and Day tied for second. They were runners-up, and Australia finished second again.

Day and Scott will be among the 92 participants when the 2012 Masters begins Thursday.

"I can't remember any of my rounds last year," Day said in his pre-tournament news conference. "It's hard to explain. Maybe I have short-term memory loss.

"After I finished the 72nd hole, I was really just, 'Wow, I played great.'"

No one from Australia has won the Masters.

"I think it makes the story a little juicier," Scott said. "It's one of those sporting hurdles that no Australian has gotten over. Thanks to Greg Norman and the years he played and icon he is in Australia, he took golf beyond the golfers and made it recognized by the whole Australian public."

Neither Scott nor Day is considered among the favorites this time. Tiger Woods, Mickelson and McIlroy have that distinction.

That sits just fine with Scott, who has finished in the top 25 in five of his previous 10 Masters tournaments.

"It only matters how I feel about my game is and not what people are saying," said Scott, who played 18 holes Monday. "l feel my game is in great shape. I've certainly done enough work in the last few weeks to have it ready."

Day, who will be playing his second Masters, also was second at the 2011 U.S. Open, which McIlroy won by eight shots.

Runner-up in two majors in one year is nice on a golfer's resume. A win would look better for Day, Scott and their countrymen.

"Maybe a parade? That would be fantastic," Day said. "There have been a lot of Australians come close over the years."

Last year, there were two.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.