Scott's victory a social media, Australian sensation

By Associated PressApril 15, 2013, 1:47 pm

BRISBANE, Australia – The roar that followed Adam Scott's Masters-winning putt at Augusta National could only be heard on the television broadcast so many thousand miles away on Australia's east coast.

But distance doesn't really matter Down Under.

Within seconds of Scott's 12-foot putt finding the cup on the second playoff hole at Augusta, fans who had been awake since dawn Monday and were either on their way – or purposely late – to work did a lot of celebrating on their own.

Commuters cheered on buses, and car horns tooted. Even a radio interview with the prime minister on the national broadcaster was interrupted to give updates on the Masters – well before the result was known.

Golf fans everywhere in this sports-mad country rejoiced.


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Shopkeepers at Peregian Beach, near a resort course designed by Adam's father, Phil Scott, spoke of the pride of having a Masters champion from their neck of the woods.

No Australian had ever won the green jacket, although many had come close at Augusta. The 32-year-old Scott tied for second with fellow Australian Jason Day two years ago.

It almost seemed as though it wouldn't happen and Greg Norman, himself on the receiving end of so many painful Masters memories, wondered if the heavens had decreed that an Australian would never win at Augusta.

Scott thought he had the Masters, and his first major title, clinched when he made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of regulation and was sitting in the scoring room waiting for Angel Cabrera to finish off his round in the final group Sunday.

But Cabrera produced a great shot of his own, a 7-iron to 3 feet for birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

''The golf gods can't be this cruel to Australia,'' Norman said in a text to friends who were watching nervously.

The preparations for a possible Australian win began overnight Sunday on social media, hours before Scott, Day and fellow Australian Mark Leishman began the day as three of the top five on the leaderboard.

Aussie golf fans even developed their own Twitter hashtag: itsourtime. And Scott obviously thought it was, too.

Tom Watson, who missed the cut at Augusta this year, tweeted: ''You showed great courage Adam ... and resiliency from last year's disappointment at Lytham.'' Scott bogeyed the last four holes last year to lose the British Open by a shot to Ernie Els.

Jarrod Lyle, an Australian golfer recovering from leukemia, posted: ''you (censored) beauty Scotty. Great win well deserved.''

Jessica Korda, a member of the LPGA who won last year's Women's Australian Open, tweeted: ''Adam Scott!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million girls just fell in love.''

Scott and Day came close to winning in 2011 at Augusta, but were left stranded by South African champion Charl Schwartzel's late run of four consecutive birdies.

Another Australian, 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, was also in the hunt that year, but finished tied for fourth, four shots behind. Surprisingly, Ogilvy didn't qualify this year.

Norman made an art form out of not winning at Augusta. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine to take the green jacket from him. In 1987, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff to leave Norman second. In 1996, a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo wasn't enough when Norman shot a final-round 78.

In his victory speech Sunday night, Scott was gracious in thanking his mentor: ''Greg Norman has been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia. Part of this definitely belongs to him.''

Reached at his home in South Florida, Norman told The Associated Press: ''I'm over the moon. Sitting there watching Adam, I had a tear in my eye. That's what it was all about. It was Adam doing it for himself, and for the country.''

Norman was so nervous watching TV that he said he went to the gym when the final group made the turn. He headed home for the last four holes and was texting with friends as his emotions shifted with every putt.

''I can only imagine how everyone else felt when I was playing,'' Norman said.

Australian politicians quickly got in on the act, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying: ''By any measure this is a historic day for Australian sport.'' Sports Minister Kate Lundy said the high-profile win would inspire other Australians to take up the sport as golf returns to the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Keith Urban, the Nashville-based country music star who grew up in Queensland state not far from Scott, tweeted: ''ADAM SCOTT!!!! You are the man! Congrats mate. -KU.''

A lot of Urban's mates appeared to agree, with nearly 400 congratulatory Scott retweets sent out. A tweet from British boy band One Direction member Niall Horan was retweeted 12,000 times in less than three hours.

''Yeaaahhhh Adam Scott ya legend! Doin it for the Aussies!'' Horan said.

The win seemed to transcend all sports in Australia, with former star cricketer Shane Warne describing Scott's winning putt as ''absolutely awesome.'' Rugby union international Quade Cooper hashtagged ''fistpump'' and said Scott's new piece of wardrobe was the ''coolest green jacket going around.''

There was a minor faux pas Monday from the sport's national governing body, the PGA of Australia. Late in the final round, it sent out a tweet saying: ''We need a mistake from the big hitting Argentine down 13.''

A few minutes later, the PGA was criticized by a California follower: ''Really? #badsportsmanship.''

The PGA of Australia quickly tweeted a reply: ''We shouldn't wish bad luck for anyone and the previous tweet was bad sportsmanship Clearly let our enthusiasm get in the way.''

Cabrera hit into the creek on the 13th and later bogeyed the hole to fall out of the lead.

Social media was set to be the haven for suggestions for next year's Champions Dinner at Augusta, with Scott getting to call the shots on the menu.

Will it be crocodile canapes, emu burgers, kangaroo steaks or even koala-shaped cupcakes for dessert? Whatever, it should probably be pretty interesting after waiting all these years.

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Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

1. Stay healthy

So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

2. Figure out his driver

Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


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That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

That won’t be the case at Augusta.

3. Clean up his iron play

As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

4. Get into contention somewhere

As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

“I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

“It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”