Adam Scott gives Australia its first green jacket

Adam Scott gives Australia its first green jacket

April 15th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sportsgolf

Adam Scott, of Australia, celebrates with caddie Steve Williams after making a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Augusta, Ga.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Adam Scott raised both his hands and looked upward into a light rain before screaming in joy.

He had won the Masters.

He vanquished the ghosts looming in the Georgia pines of previous Australian golfers who came close but couldn't win a green jacket -- Greg Norman famously included.

Scott anchored his long putter into his sternum then swept in about a 12-foot putt on the second-playoff hole for a birdie to defeat 2009 Masters champ Angel Cabrera.

"I'm a proud Australian, and I hope this sits really well back at home," Scott said a few minutes after 2012 champion Bubba Watson helped him slip into his green jacket. "This is one thing in golf that we hadn't been able to achieve."

Scott topped a field full of major champions including Cabrera and Tiger Woods, highly ranked players including Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day, and hard-charging contenders such as Thorbjorn Olesen and Marc Leishman. Scott shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday with his lone bogey on the first hole and a birdie on the last.

"What an incredible day," Scott said. "Everything fell my way in the end. I just kept plugging away, and I didn't know if it was going to happen through nine. But a good back nine here solves a lot and gives you a chance."

His putt on No. 10 -- the same spot that Watson won here last year -- in the playoff gave Scott his first major championship. It would not have been possible without a few good breaks such as his ball resting on the bank beside the 13th green instead of rolling into the water.

After missing putts on slower-than-usual greens early in the day, Scott didn't miss on the final hole of regulation. When it rolled in, he turned and celebrated as if he won even though Cabrera waited in the 18th fairway, suddenly one shot behind Scott.

The lead didn't last long. Cabrera stuck a 7-iron from 163 yards to within two feet in a do-or-die situation. Cabrera, known as "The Duck," made the putt and hugged his son, who caddied for him all week.

"The only thing in my head was winning," Cabrera said through a translator. He'd done it before, in 2009, in a playoff over Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell.

He didn't do it again.

Cabrera and Scott both parred No. 18 in the playoff with almost identical tee shots, matching approaches that came up short and chips that missed the cup which sent them to No. 10.

Cabrera's approach settled about 15 feet away, and Scott's landed hole-high about 12 feet away. Cabrera's putt skirted the right edge and stopped directly behind the hole, an inch away.

Scott took his time reading the putt as darkness descended. Scott called for his caddie, Steve Williams, to help him read the green.

"He said, 'It's at least two cups, it's going to break more than you think,'" Scott said. "He was my eyes on that putt. It started on line and managed to hang on and go in the left half -- an amazing feeling."

It's a completely different feeling than the last time Scott contended for a major championship. He led the British Open last summer but bogeyed the final four holes and allowed Ernie Els to hoist the Claret Jug. It could have been a crushing blow. But he bounced back eight months later to become part of Masters history and Australian sports history as well.

"He's always been a great player and had the ability to win major championships," Norman said in an interview with Golf Channel. "I think he'll go out and win more majors than any Australian golfer."

Four different players, including Scott, at least shared the lead at some point in Sunday's major.

Cabrera and Snedeker shared the lead at the start of the day. Snedeker, who played at Vanderbilt, birdied his first hole and made the turn at even. But he shot 3 over on the back nine.

"I putted horrible and didn't make the adjustments you have to make," said Snedeker, who played in the final group on Sunday in 2008 only to shoot a 77. "It's going to be more difficult tonight because I had a really good chance if I do what I normally do. It's going to be a tough night, a tough couple days."

Day, also an Australian native, owned a one-shot lead at 9-under when he stepped to the 16th tee. His approach to the par-3 went long, and he made three strokes with his putter for a bogey. He bogeyed No. 17 as well after hitting his approach into the front bunker and missing his first putt. A birdie attempt on the last hole missed on the high side leaving him at 7 under with Scott and Cabrera still on the course.

"It's a little disappointing, but there's a lot of experience that I can take into next year, and hopefully I can wear one of those green jackets soon," said Day, who tied for second here with Scott in 2011. "It was just a few mental errors here and there. I think the pressure got to me a little bit."

It didn't get to Scott.

"He had more pressure on him today than any other player," Norman said. "There was more pressure on him because an Australian had never done it."

Until Sunday.

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