April 15 (Bloomberg) -- Adam Scott gave Australia its first champion in the 77-year history of golf’s Masters Tournament by outlasting Angel Cabrera in a playoff.
Scott made a birdie putt from about 12 feet (3.6 meters) in the rain on the second hole of the sudden-death shootout yesterday after both players finished tied with a four-round total of 9-under par 279 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Jason Day, another Australian, was third at 7-under par, two shots better than Tiger Woods and Marc Leishman.
The Masters had been the only one of golf’s four major tournaments that had never been won by an Australian. While Scott and Day tied for second in 2011, Greg Norman was a runner-up three times in Augusta, most famously in 1996, when he blew a six-shot lead in the final round and was beaten by Nick Faldo. Australians Jack Newton (1980) and Bruce Crampton (1972) also finished second at the Masters.
“Golf is a big sport at home,” Scott told reporters yesterday. “It’s been a sport that’s been followed with a long list of great players, and this was one thing in golf that we had not been able to achieve. It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win.”
Scott, who received $1.44 million along with the ceremonial green jacket, is the 10th Australian to win a major and the first since Geoff Ogilvy at the 2006 U.S. Open.
Norman won the British Open twice, while Peter Thomson captured it five times from 1954 to 1965. David Graham won the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open, while other Australian major winners were Steve Elkington at the 1995 PGA Championship, Ian Baker-Finch at the 1991 British Open, Wayne Grady at the 1990 PGA Championship, Kel Nagle at the 1960 British Open and Jim Ferrier at the 1947 PGA Championship.
Scott and Cabrera were tied for the lead at 8-under par coming to the final hole when Scott, playing in a group ahead of Cabrera, rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the 18th green in a steady rain. Scott shouted “Come on, Aussie!” and celebrated with his caddie, Steve Williams, before taking an Australian flag from a patron as he walked off the green.
Cabrera, who watched the celebration from the fairway, followed by hitting his approach shot to three feet, setting up a tying birdie that forced the tournament’s 17th playoff. It was the first time in Masters history that two players both birdied the final hole to force a playoff. It was the third shootout in five years, as Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole last year, while Cabrera won a three-way playoff against Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in 2009.
Cabrera, at 43 seeking to become the Masters’ second-oldest winner behind Jack Nicklaus, had a birdie chip roll just past the edge of the cup on the 18th hole to start the playoff and then left a curling 15-foot birdie putt just behind the hole on the second hole, the par-4 10th. Scott followed by making his winning stroke with a putter he anchors on his upper chest.
“That’s how golf is,” Cabrera, whose two wins in the U.S. were both majors, said through a translator. “I had a chip on 18 that could have won it, but Adam is a good winner. He’s a great person, a great player. I’m happy for him.”
Cabrera entered the Masters at 269 in the Official World Golf Ranking, one spot behind Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand and 23 behind John Daly, a two-time major winner who was not in the Masters field and was selling his Loudmouth Golf clothing line this week in the parking lot of a Hooters restaurant down the street from Augusta National.
Scott had started the final round tied for third at 6-under, one shot behind co-leaders Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker, and closed with a 3-under 69. He’s now the fourth straight player to come from behind in the final round to win the Masters, following Phil Mickelson in 2010, Charl Schwartzel in 2011 and Watson last year. It’s the first time there’s been four straight comeback wins at the Masters since 1984-87.
This was the third consecutive year the Masters winner wasn’t in the final pairing. Before 2011, the champion came out of the last group 19 of the previous 20 years.
Scott, 32, won his first major title in his 48th attempt. His streak of 47 consecutive major appearances is second among active players behind only Sergio Garcia. Only four players in the Masters field had played in more majors without a victory than Scott, who entered the tournament ranked seventh in the world. This was his ninth PGA Tour win.
Woods’s 2013 Masters will be remembered by one hole that may have resulted in a four-shot swing, the difference between a tie for fourth and possibly a 15th major title.
“We could do a ‘what-if’ on every tournament we lose,” Woods told reporters. “We lose more tournaments than we win. But I certainly had my opportunities to post some good rounds this week. I thought I really played well.”
Woods was tied for the lead late in the second round when his third shot on the par-5 15th hole hit the flag stick on the fly and ricocheted back into the pond in front of the green.
It turned a potential birdie into a bogey and Woods the next day was assessed an additional two-shot penalty for taking an improper drop about two yards behind where he originally hit from.
Some argued the violation should have disqualified Woods, or that he should have withdrawn for knowingly gaining an advantage with the improper drop.
Woods was saved from disqualification by a 2011 rules revision protecting players from scorecard errors caused by advances in video technology, as the violation was discovered after a television viewer alerted tournament officials and Woods wasn’t informed about it until a day later.
Masters officials said disqualification wasn’t under consideration and Woods said he made a mistake and never thought about withdrawing.
Watson, who won the 2012 playoff on the second extra hole, tied for 50th place this year at 7-over par. He closed with a final-round 77 that included a 10 on the par-3 12th hole, where he hit three balls into Rae’s Creek.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson was 9-over, his second-worst finish in 20 appearances as a professional. It was just the second time in the past 16 years that Mickelson was above par at the Masters.
“I just had an off year,” Mickelson said. “I played poorly. But this was disappointing for me in that this is my favorite place in the world to play.”
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who’s second in the world rankings to Woods, followed his third-round 79 with a 69 today to finish 2-over par and tied for 25th. Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters winner who at 53 was one shot off the lead after two rounds, tied for 13th at 1-under par.
Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur who is the youngest player in a major golf championship in 148 years, finished 12-over par after a final-round 75. The eighth-grader, who earned a spot in the field by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November, said playing in the Masters was the biggest accomplishment of his life.
“It’s not easy to play here, to make the cut and be low amateur,” said Guan, the only one of six amateurs to play the final two rounds. “I did a pretty good job this week and can’t believe it’s over.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in Augusta, Georgia, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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