All of those emotions and characters entered the whirlpool that became the final hour of the final day of the 77th Masters. Scott’s failures, Australia’s failures, Norman’s shadow, they all stood over a putt Sunday evening on the 10th green, unforgettable drama in the immediate past, an untold future for the man holding that ridiculous broomstick of a putter in the immediate future.
“I wasn’t comfortable looking down there,” Scott said.
Get comfortable now. Scott’s 12-foot putt settled squarely into the bottom of the cup, and all the indignities of the past — personal and patriotic — melted away. He thrust both hands to the sky, bent his back for emphasis and screamed through the raindrops. With that putt to beat Angel Cabrera in one of the best playoffs in the history of Augusta National Golf Club, Scott won the first major of his career and the first Masters for Australia — two accomplishments that had long been expected, but never realized.
“I’m a proud Australian,” Scott said, “and I hope this sits really well back at home.”
There’s no question of that. Norman, of course, drew up the golfing blueprint for Australians of Scott’s generation, the reason so many took up the sport. But for all his talent and flair, he is defined by his tragedies here. In 1986, he bogeyed the 72nd hole, and lost by a shot to Jack Nicklaus. The following year, he was left at the side of the 11th green as Larry Mize chipped in for birdie, improbably ending their playoff. And in 1996, the worst: A six-shot lead on Sunday morning that somehow turned into a five-shot loss to Nick Faldo by Sunday night.
Norman “inspired a nation of golfers, anyone near to my age, older and younger,” Scott said. “He was the best player in the world and an icon in Australia.”
Now, it might be Scott’s turn. “I guess when I get home,” he said, “I’ll find out.”
It took time to whittle the field down to the two characters who sorted it out, and so many players closed their trunks and drove away from Augusta National, no doubt replaying crucial moments in their minds. Brandt Snedeker was on the cusp of salvaging a gutsy par at the 10th, one that would have pulled him within a shot of the lead, and he missed a two-foot downhill putt. He three-putted 11, and never recovered en route to 75 and a tie for sixth.
Tiger Woods, he of the two-stroke penalty and nagging controversy from Friday’s second round, didn’t have such a punch-in-the-gut moment, but instead died in dribs and drabs. He fell out of contention with two bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the front side, and couldn’t claw back to truly apply pressure on the back. He finished tied for fourth, four back.