One for the Aussies: Scott's memorable Masters victory

By Doug FergusonOctober 22, 2013, 4:40 pm

Adam Scott considers it the signature moment of his career, even if it wasn't the putt that made him the first Australian to win the Masters.

It was the stage – the 18th green Sunday afternoon at Augusta National. It was the moment – tied for the lead, a 20-foot birdie putt across the green to a front left pin, the kind of putt Masters champions make.

It was the reaction when it swirled into the cup. The right uppercut. He planted his feet so he could pump both arms, the left one still holding his long putter, and he let loose a spontaneous scream that reverberated Down Under. ''C'MON AUSSIE!''

Even more meaningful was the photo.

Scott didn't see it until a couple of days after he slipped on that green jacket. The photo was sent to him by some Australian caddies, and it touched him the way it did so many others. As Scott lined up the biggest putt of his life, he could not have seen Marc Leishman standing behind him.

The putt disappeared into the cup. Scott cried out with the purest joy. And there was Leishman, pumping his right fist to celebrate.

Scott was blown away by the photo.

''I immediately texted Marc after that, because that's one of my favorite things of the whole experience,'' Scott said. ''From the point of that putt going in, the next two hours was just a wealth of incredible experience. Your senses can't handle all that stuff. But then when I saw that with Leish, now I look back on that as one of my favorite things at Augusta, and an incredible sense of national pride there, and what a top bloke he is for that kind of reaction.''

Leishman was in the running for a green jacket, too.

He was paired with Scott in the final round. They both were 6-under through 12 holes, two shots behind Angel Cabrera, and heading into the pivotal six-hole stretch on the back nine of Augusta National. Disappointment set in when Leishman's approach to the par-5 15th came up just short and into the water.

''He had just as good a chance as me to win,'' Scott said. ''So it's a big thing to think you've got a chance to win the Masters, and then you're standing on the 18th green and you know you don't. But to have the character to stand there and be happy for someone else just says a lot about Marc, for sure.''

His actions spoke for all of Australia.

Jim Ferrier was the first Australian-born golfer to finish second at the Masters in 1950. Greg Norman turned it into an art form, building Aussie hopes with each close call. But after Norman lost a duel with Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999, no one seriously challenged for the green jacket again until 2011. Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy all were in the mix on the back nine until Charl Schwartzel of South Africa won by closing with four straight birdies.

''It was every second year with Greg, and then we had the tease two years before with Jason and Adam,'' Ogilvy said. ''That got everyone back into it.''

Ogilvy failed to qualify this year for the first time since 2005. He was driving from San Diego to Phoenix during the final round, getting updates by the minute on Twitter. Like so many other Australians, as thrilled as Ogilvy was for his mate, the photo caught his attention.

His eyes immediately went to the one part of the photo not in focus – Leishman.

''There are not many photos that the most important part of the photo is not the start of it,'' Ogilvy said. ''There's Leish. And you see Adam. And you say, 'Is that not the best photo ever?' And it's not because of Adam. There are thousands of photos of him fist-pumping. It's just a moment in time. It sums up what it meant to Australia, and it sums up what Australians admire in a person or want to be.

''Everyone thinks of their mates,'' he said. ''And great mates, that's what they do. At that point, it was the biggest moment in sport for us. We climbed every other Everest in sport. That was the one thing we hadn't done.''

Leishman pumping his fist was as spontaneous as Scott's own reaction. He was simply caught up in the rawest of emotions. The only other time he could recall celebrating so publicly was for an Aussie Rules football team. ''Not for another golfer that's on the course with me at the same time,'' he said.

''I was just hoping he would hole the putt – for him, for Australian golf, for everything it meant,'' he added.

Leishman had 3 feet left for par to tie for fourth, his best finish in a major. He was lucky it wasn't longer. Leishman could barely hold the putter after Scott made birdie, more out of pain than emotion.

''He came over and hit my hand and was screaming, 'C'mon, Aussie!' And he hit it hard,'' Leishman said with a grin. ''My right hand, I couldn't feel it. It was bright red. I put my hand on the club and said, 'Please, please go in.' It was a pretty big putt for me. It went right in the middle. It was worth it.''

Leishman walked in the door of his rented house in time to catch the winning moment – Scott making a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 10 to win on the second playoff hole against Cabrera. Another celebration, this one more private.

He first saw the photo the following day when it was posted on Facebook pages.

''I obviously knew there were a lot of cameras around. I just didn't think I would be in the photo,'' Leishman said. ''It really captured the moment well of what it meant to him. He doesn't go off like that often – ever. I was proud to know that I did that for a fellow Aussie. I was just happy for my friend.

''It was a cool photo.''

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.