• The Masters: Round Four

Scott reaches greatness with Masters triumph

Alex Dimond April 14, 2013
Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters at Augusta National © AP

Persistent rain may have drenched the patrons at Augusta National on Sunday, but it did not affect Adam Scott as he washed away painful memories - both personal, and for his country - to become the first Australian ever to win the Masters.

2013 Masters Tournament: Final leaderboard

Adam Scott with his green jacket © Getty Images
  • -9       Adam Scott*
  • -9        Angel Cabrera
  • -7        Jason Day
  • -5        Tiger Woods
              Marc Leishman
  • * Scott won in a two-hole play-off.

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Shrugging off the memories of the major he most recently threw away - the 2012 Open Championship - Scott faced off against past Augusta champion Angel Cabrera in a sudden death playoff and trumped the Argentine - with a birdie at the second sudden death hole, the 10th, creating history.

For so long on Sunday - and, Scott might suggest, throughout his career at majors - the putts just failed to drop for the 32-year-old, but two decisive putts, at the 18th in regulation and the 10th in the play-off, saw him achieve something Greg Norman, Scott's idol, never managed.

The play-off was booked in the most dramatic of circumstances. Scott thought he was about to become the first Australian ever to own a green jacket when he holed a 25-foot putt for birdie at the 18th - but minutes later Cabrera, knowing he needed a three to force a play-off, fired in his approach shot to five feet to join his rival at nine-under par.

The first play-off hole, the 18th, was halved in nerveless pars, taking matters to the 18th - site of Bubba Watson's dramatic success 12 months ago. Unlike Watson on that occasion, this time both players found the fairway, subsequently setting up 20-foot putts for birdie.

After Cabrera missed, Scott's suddenly came for Masters immortality.

Taking his time before once again wielding the long putter that is set to be outlawed in 2016, Scott stroked firm and true to find the back of the cup and, soon enough, begin the tears.

"I don't know how that happened," Scott said afterwards. "I found my way today - there was some luck there somewhere. It's incredible to be in this position."

Leading with just three holes to play, Jason Day was forced to settle for third, two shots behind Cabrera and his vanquisher.

It was a hugely tense end to a day that initially failed to spark in the wet conditions. On the front nine, the rain dropped but the putts, for almost every player, would not. Then, with conditions worsening, the momentum swung countless times on the back nine, as it often does. Initially it was Cabrera's tournament, the Argentine taking a two-shot lead into the closing nine holes. But the one real charge of the afternoon put Day out in front and with his destiny in his own hands.

But successive minor mistakes at 16 and 17 were both punished with bogeys, putting Scott and the fast-finishing Cabrera into a high stakes head-to-head duel.

Unfortunately, it was the Argentine who held a share of the 54-hole lead who would this time miss out, having won his own green jacket in a playoff four years ago.

"That is golf, you know," Cabrera said, speaking through a translator, in the aftermath. "I would have been happier if I would have won. He is a great person, he is a great player - I am happy for him."

Scott saved his putts for when he needed them most. It looked like victory would slip away from him when makeable birdie attempts at eight, nine, 11 and 12 all rolled past - before a lucky break at the 13th, seeing his approach shot stay on the bank when it looked destined to roll into Rae's Creek, seemed to change his chances.

Another birdie at the 15th meant he was in a share of the lead by the time he reached the 16th green - before the putter again began to play up as he erred with a 15-footer for the outright advantage. But he nailed the putt that mattered at the last to card a round of 69, and two holes later he repeated the feat to gain his reward.

Scott added: "It was a split second that I thought I had won [on 18]. That was the putt we've seen so many times before though. That was the time for me to step up and see how much I really wanted this.

"Australia is a proud sporting nation and this is one notch in the belt that we had never got. It is amazing that it came down to me."

It was so nearly Cabrera's opportunity to celebrate again. The 43-year-old limited mistakes on the front nine as he almost fell into a two-shot advantage as others laboured, before a wayward tee-shot at the 10th brought him back within touching distance of the pack. Water at the 13th, in circumstances not too disimilar to Scott's big break, then seemingly eroded his chances as Day mounted his charge - but birdies at 15 and, under the greatest pressure of all, 18 secured a 70 and a second Masters play-off.

He kept the pressure on Scott with some fine shots but, when his 20-footer at the 10th came to rest an inch behind the hole, he was not given a chance to make amends.

Overnight co-leader Brandt Snedeker was bleeding heavily before water at the 13th effectively ended his challenge, while another Australian, Marc Leishman, and - to a lesser extent - Tiger Woods never really got into the mix.

For Woods, in the end, his challenge ended at the 15th on Friday. Effectively penalised four shots - once his two-shot penalty had been factored in - for having the precision to hit the flagstick with his pitch shot, the American was forced to play catch-up for the rest of the tournament.

He needed a fast start on Sunday - a lingering consequence of that fiasco - but could not get one, failing to birdie the par-five second after a wayward approach before leaving a makeable putt short at the third. Bogeys at five and seven did not quite end his challenge - especially as he roared back with confident birdies at nine and ten.

But the putts just refused to drop - with a missed birdie putt at 12 and squandered eagle putts at 13 and 15 leaving him too much to do. Perhaps nine-under for the tournament without that Friday collision, Woods instead was forced to settle with a five-under total after a round of 70.

"I thought I would have to shoot 65, but I just didn't post it," he noted.

Angel Cabrera played his part in a dramatic final round © Getty Images

Snedeker stumbled home in 75 shots in the end, four-under for the tournament, finding Rae's Creek with his second at the 13th to compound mistakes at the 10th and 11th that undermined his chances.

Thorbjorn Olesen was the best of the European finishers, the Dane slotting in at four-under after a majestic final round of 68 - for much of the time seeming to be the only player able to make birdies. Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia were a shot behind at three-under, rounding out the top ten alongside Matt Kuchar.

In the battle of the veteran former champions, it was Fred Couples who ultimately gained the upper hand over Bernhard Langer, as the American closed with a round of 71 to end the tournament one-over. The German, in contrast, ended up two-over after a 76 - but was briefly firmly in contention, opening with three straight birdies to reach five-under and, however briefly, give the faintest possibility of an unlikely triumph. In the end, it was not to be.

Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old amateur sensation, successfully picked up the silver cup awarded to the tournament's low amateur, carding a final round of 75 to finish 12-over for the event.

Phil Mickelson was just three shots better off despite a closing 73, a finishing total matched by his good friend Keegan Bradley after a 69.

Bubba Watson, the defending champion, became the second person of the day to record a 10 at the par-three 12th, but nevertheless ultimately finishing seven-over for the tournament - finishing with a nice flourish by birdieing the last.

Scott thought he had won the tournament in regulation - but he had to wait another hour © Getty Images
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Alex Dimond Close
Alex Dimond is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk