A day when the nice guy Scott finished first

RICHARD HINDS
Last updated 12:31 16/04/2013

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In clubhouses and lounge rooms, they will play the putt with which Adam Scott clinched the Masters - his Masters, and Australia's Masters - forever. 

Then they will play it again, but rewind the tape to 30 minutes before that final putt dropped, and consider the moment that made the man.

Scott is sitting in the scorer's hut completing his post-round accountancy and, perhaps, wondering whether to put the framed card in the trophy room or above the fireplace. 

Instinctively, he looks up at a screen upon which Angel Cabrera, an amiable character who more resembles a plumber than an elite sportsman, is hitting an exquisite approach to the final green.

The Argentine has just ripped the green jacket from Scott's shoulders. 

Imagine, just for a moment, the weight that has descended upon Scott. The accumulated burden of his own great, but as-yet-unfulfilled talent. 

The still fresh memories of the four-shot lead squandered in the final four holes of last year's British Open. 

The Augusta demons that haunted his occasional mentor, and fellow Queenslander, Greg Norman. 

The failure of any Australian to set a place at Augusta National's champions' dinner.

Only minutes earlier, Scott had won the Masters. The player for whom putting had been golfing kryptonite had holed a curling downhill teaser of a birdie attempt to take the lead. 

He had celebrated wildly, like the champion he was. There could be no Larry Mize or Nick Faldo to play comic book villain in dodgy pants. Surely?


Now, suddenly, Scott was being asked to overcome his deflation and win the Masters again. 

It is a tortuous test of character not even Augusta's tournament committee, which presents greens slicker than bowling alleys, would devise.

Amid the mayhem after Cabrera's brilliant approach, Scott shrugged and returned to the forensic examination of his scorecard. But you can only wonder what crossed his mind. 

Or how his heart must have raced when Cabrera almost holed a chip at the first play-off hole, and when the Argentinian's ball hung over the hole at the second. How did Scott compose himself sufficiently to hole the extra-time putt that will define him as a competitor?

It is a stroke that will also set Scott's personal record straight - and not merely in a statistical sense. 

Scott's victory demonstrates a player sometimes cast as a handsome, well-spoken dilettante with a taste for good-looking women and the European lifestyle is made of stern stuff. 

It illuminates the dedicated professional who harboured an intense desire to achieve his sole objective: a major victory. 

Such triumphs, the cliche has it, begin on the back nine on Sunday.


Scott's victory at Augusta began in the moments after his shattering capitulation at Royal Lytham and St Anne's. 

It was born of the mixture of dignity, stoicism and resolve with which he accepted the most shattering of defeats. 

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Although, even then, the good humour with which Scott greeted the less welcome of Kipling's imposters made you wonder if he was too compliant, whether he lacked the tenacity to match his brilliant swing.

There can be no question now. In the final round, Scott first clung to the leading group with great skill and considerable good fortune. 

His approach to the 13th green could have - probably should have - rolled into Rae's Creek. Instead, it nestled on a treacherous slope - the stroke of luck Norman never seemed to get.

But Scott made his own luck with that liquid swing, and sealed his fate in the least likely manner: two pressure-laden, career-defining putts. 

The torture the Queenslander has experienced on the green is evident in the vast collection of putters he discarded before he adopted the controversial long implement. 

Whether using a long putter or a mop handle, that Scott was able to control his nerves and produce two pure strokes will have felt sweet indeed.

Graciously, and rightly, Scott praised Norman's role. ''There's one guy who inspired a nation, and that's him,'' he said, dedicating a part of his own victory to the player who deserved a green jacket more than any other.

As humble in victory as he had been in defeat, he also mentioned the encouragement given by Cabrera. 

At the 2009 Presidents Cup, Cabrera had pulled the then struggling Scott aside and told him he was ''a great, great player''. One of golf's great charms is that, more often than not, conqueror and conquered celebrate together.

There will be considerable satisfaction for Scott's caddie Steve Williams, the Kiwi who parted company with Tiger Woods in acrimonious circumstances. 

Williams has been cast as a snarling Rottweiler. But, at a time like this, he is a man to have in your corner. 

From first hole to 20th, Williams was in Scott's ear providing  advice, and not letting any of the demons of Royal Lytham re-emerge. Maybe a sleeve from the green jacket belongs across the Tasman.

But this was a great day for Australian golf. Mostly, it was a great day for Adam Scott. A day when a nice guy finished first.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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