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Scott Gives Folks Back Home Something to Cheer About
While several Australian fans in the gallery and a few players let out loud whoops when Adam Scott rolled in his 12-foot birdie putt on the second sudden-death playoff hole to beat Angel Cabrera and win the Masters, a whole nation erupted on the other side of the world.
At around 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Georgia, when Scott became the first Aussie to ever win a Masters, it was Monday morning back home. Though it was the start of a work week in Australia many fans in the sports-loving country stayed home to witness the drama underway at Augusta National Golf Club.
Once Scott's final putt disappeared into the cup, a nationwide celebration took place. According to news reports, commuters on buses cheered and car horns blared in the streets. Before that, a radio interview of Prime Minister Julia Gillard was intermittently interrupted to give listeners Masters updates.
"Australia is a proud sporting nation," a green-jacketed Scott told reporters following his Masters win. "And this is one notch in the belt that we had never got."
Storekeepers at Peregian Beach near a resort course designed by Adam's father, Phil Scott, proudly spoke of having a Masters champion from their neck of the woods.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said that the 32-year-old Scott's victory would ensure that "many Queenslanders start the week with a smile on their face."
Premier Newman also tipped the figurative cap to Jason Day, who finished third and two strokes out of the playoff after making bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes in the final round. "I would also like to acknowledge the great golf played by Jason Day, another Queenslander. To have two people from this great state in the top-three positions at the U.S. Masters is unbelievable."
PM Gillard responded to the win by observing, "By any measure this is a historic day for Australian sport . . . All Australians will be marveling in his achievement and thinking of him. Adam, Australia is incredibly proud of you."
Keith Urban, the Nashville-based country music star who grew up in Queensland not far from Scott, tweeted: "ADAM SCOTT!!!! You are the man! Congrats mate. -KU."
A tweet from British boy band One Direction member Niall Horan was retweeted 12,000 times in less than three hours. "Yeaaahhhh Adam Scott ya legend! Doin it for the Aussies!" he said.
Retired Australian cricketer Shane Warne called Scott's winning putt "absolutely awesome." Rugby union international Quade Cooper hash-tagged "fistpump" and said Scott's new piece of wardrobe was the "coolest green jacket going around."
Jarrod Lyle, an Australian touring pro who's now recovering from leukemia, posted: "You (censored) beauty Scotty. Great win well deserved."
The most famous Australian golfer of them all, Greg Norman, was particularly affected by the moment. Scott recognized the Great White Shark's importance to the nation during his victory speech Sunday night, saying, "Greg Norman has been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia. It was one guy who inspired a nation of golfers, and that is Greg Norman. Part of this definitely belongs to him."
From his home in south Florida, Norman told The Associated Press: "I'm over the moon. Sitting there watching Adam, I had a tear in my eye. That's what it was all about. It was Adam doing it for himself, and for the country."
When Cabrera hit his amazing approach shot on the 72nd hole to 3 feet to force the playoff, Norman said in a text to friends, "The golf gods can't be this cruel to Australia."
Of all the players in Masters' history, no one knows how things can change on Sunday at Augusta National than Norman. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus fired a 6-under-par 30 on the back nine to win his sixth green and get past Norman, the 54-hole leader. The next year, Norman was beaten in a playoff when Larry Mize hit one of the tournament's most memorable shots, a 140-foot chip-in. And his most painful loss of all came in 1996, when Norman shot a final-round 78 to blow a six-stroke lead to Nick Faldo.
"I can only imagine how everyone else felt when I was playing," Norman said after Scott's victory.
It was two years ago when Scott and Day finished tied for second, two strokes behind Masters winner Charl Schwartzel. Scott suffered more disappointment last July when he forfeited a three-stroke lead by bogeying the final four holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and losing to Ernie Els in the Open Championship. Scott fought back tears on the 18th hole as the reality settled in.
"I had it in my hands with four to go," Scott said then. "I managed to hit a poor shot on each of the closing four holes. Look, I played so beautifully for most of the week. I shouldn't let this bring me down."
It didn't, as it turns out. On Sunday in Georgia he reflected, "It seems a long way away from a couple of years ago here, and even last July when I was trying to win another major."
Mission accomplished for the Aussie, who with his big win in the Masters gave a whole nation something to cheer about.