AUGUSTA, Ga. As the raindrops fell on a dark and dreary day at Augusta National, Adam Scott broke through the gloom Sunday with a memorable Masters victory.
When Scott’s 12-foot putt on the second sudden-death playoff hole beat an equally clutch Angel Cabrera, it brought an end to a Masters that had been waiting for nearly four full days for something remarkable to happen.
Scott and Cabrera delivered that. During a final round during which no player could separate himself from the field, Australia’s Scott and Argentina’s Cabrera did so – but not until the very end.
“I’m a proud Australian,” said Scott, 32, who won a major for the first time and is the first from his country to win a Masters title. “I hope this sits really well at home.”
Scott had thought he’d won on the 72nd hole, when he holed a 20-footer with his anchored putter, giving him a one-shot lead on Cabrera and finishing his round with a 3-under-par 69, 9-under for the tournament.
As the rain-soaked crowd roared, Scott leapt in the air, yelling, “Come on, Aussie!” He high-fived caddie Steve Williams and headed to the scorer’s area to sign his card.
“For a split second there, I let myself think I’d won,” Scott said.
But Scott’s putt also ignited something in Cabrera, who was playing in the group behind Scott’s and had watched it all from the 18th fairway. As Scott sat at the scorer’s table, Cabrera, who won the Masters in 2009, countered with an approach shot that landed just a few feet from the hole.
Cabrera’s birdie putt sent the Masters into sudden-death for the second consecutive year.
Both players parred No. 18, the first playoff hole, with Cabrera’s chip from off the green rolling just past the hole.
Cabrera and Scott gave each other a thumb’s up as they walked up the 10th fairway to play their second shots on the second playoff hole.
When they got to the green, Cabrera again barely missed his birdie chance. Scott, putting from about 12 feet, made his and he was a Masters champion.
Jason Day, Scott’s fellow Australian, finished third at 281, two shots behind Scott and Cabrera. Tiger Woods, again missing a chance at winning his 15th major, tied for fourth with Australia’s Marc Leishman, four shots back.
Brandt Snedeker, who was tied for the lead heading into Sunday’s final round with Cabrera, struggled with a final-round 75 and finished tied for sixth with Thorbjorn Olesen.
The win meant everything to Scott and his country, which had seen nothing but heartbreak at the Masters, especially in the form of Greg Norman. Norman, who had three wrenching losses at Augusta, is a close friend and mentor of Scott’s.
“Part of this is for him,” said Scott.
Woods will have to wait until June – at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia – to resume his pursuit of a 15th major.
Woods, the world’s No. 1 player who had won two consecutive tournaments prior to Augusta, was a prohibitive favorite to win a fifth Masters.
But he couldn’t summon any magic on Sunday, and certainly couldn’t overcome the two strokes he was penalized for a controversial drop Friday.
Had Woods’ shot not hit the flag stick on the 15th hole during the second round, he might well have birdied the hole. Instead, with the penalty, he took an 8.
The math was pretty basic for Woods, whose 2-under 70 Sunday left him at 5-under for the tournament and four strokes behind Scott and Cabrera: That four-shot swing might well have cost him the Masters.
The Masters also might have gone to Day, another Aussie who had a two-stroke lead after 15 holes Sunday.
On Friday evening, after he shot a 4-under 68 to take the second-round lead, Day had perhaps hinted at the pressure he feels in playing the Masters.
“It just feels like every shot is the biggest shot you’ve hit in your life out here,” he said at the time. “It’s a major. There’s so many people watching you around the world. I was just trying to breathe as much as I could to keep myself down and as level as I could.”
All that apparently caught up with Day late Sunday. He bogeyed No. 16 and did the same at 17. He needed a birdie at No. 18 to pull into what then would have been a tie with Scott and Cabrera, but he missed by inches.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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