Scott defeats Cabrera on second extra hole to win Masters

By Doug FergusonApril 15, 2013, 12:36 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Adam Scott finished the job this time, and put an end to more than a half-century of Australian misery at the Masters.

With the two biggest putts of his career, Scott holed a 20-footer for birdie on the 18th hole of regulation that put him into a playoff with Angel Cabrera, and then won his first major championship Sunday with a 12-footer for birdie on the second extra hole.

''We like to think we're the best at everything. Golf is a big sport at home, and this is the one thing in golf we hadn't been able to achieve,'' Scott said. ''It's amazing that it's my destiny to be the first Australian to win. It's incredible.''

Scott leaned back and thrust his arms in the air after the putt dropped on the 10th hole, a celebration for all of Australia and personal redemption for himself.

It was only last summer when Scott threw away the British Open by making bogey on his last four holes to lose by one shot to Ernie Els. The 32-year-old handled that crushing defeat with dignity and pledged to finish stronger given another chance. ''Next time – I'm sure there will be a next time – I can do a better job of it,'' he said that day.

Scott was close to perfect, and he had to be with Cabrera delivering some brilliance of his own.

Moments after Scott made his 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 3-under 69 to take a one-shot lead – 'C'mon, Aussie!'' he screamed – Cabrera answered with an approach that plopped down 3 feet from the cup, one of the greatest shots under the circumstances. That gave him an easy birdie and a 2-under 70. They finished at 9-under 279.

They both chipped close for par on the 18th in the first playoff hole, and Cabrera's 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th grazed the right side of the cup.

With his long putter anchored against his chest, Scott's putt was true all the way. the Masters had been the only major that never had a champion use a long putter. Scott's win means four of the last six major champions used a putter pressed against their belly or chest, a stroke that might be banned in 2016.


77th Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Scott and Cabrera, in their own words

Photos: Scott's career


What mattered more to Scott was that the Masters had been the only major an Australian had never won. He was among dozens of golfers who routinely rose in the early hours of Monday morning for the telecast, only to watch a horror show. The leading character was Greg Norman, who had four good chances to win, none better than when he blew a six-shot lead on the last day to Nick Faldo in 1996.

There was Jim Ferrier in 1952 and Bruce Crampton 20 years later. Scott and Jason Day tied for second just two years ago. Norman, though, was the face of Aussie failures at the Masters, and Scott paid him tribute in Butler Cabin before he slipped on that beautiful green jacket.

''Australia is a proud sporting nation, and this is one notch in the belt we never got,'' Scott said. ''It's amazing that it came down to me today. But there's one guy who inspired a nation of golfers, and that's Greg Norman. He's been incredible to me and all the great golfers. Part of this belongs to him.''

Scott was just as gracious in victory as he was last summer at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He and Cabrera flashed a thumbs-up to each other after their shots into the 10th hole in the playoff, and they walked off the 10th green with their arms around each other when it was over.

''Such is golf,'' Cabrera said. ''Adam is a good winner.''

It was a riveting conclusion to a week filled with some awkward moments. There was the one-shot penalty called against 14-year-old Tianlang Guan that nearly kept the Chinese teen from becoming the youngest player to make the cut. There was the illegal drop by Tiger Woods, who was given a two-shot penalty over questions and confusion about why he was not disqualified for signing an incorrect card.

And at the end, there was shot-making at its finest.

Scott didn't make a bogey after the first hole, and he really didn't miss a shot the rest of the day on a rainy Sunday at Augusta. He just couldn't get a putt to fall until it really mattered. Then, he made two of them.

Day closed with a 70, his second close call at the Masters in three years. This one hurt far more because he had a two-shot lead when he stepped to the 16th tee.

He ran off three bold birdies down the stretch – getting up-and-down from the back bunker on the 13th, a 10-foot putt on the 14th, and capitalizing on a break at No. 15 when his drive ricocheted out of the trees into the fairways, allowing him to reach the green in two.

His lead vanished just as quickly, however. Day chose to hit putter from behind the 16th green, came up 5 feet short and missed the par putt. He hit into a bunker on the 17th for another bogey.

''I think the pressure got to me a little bit,'' Day said.

The tournament unfolded behind him, and it turned out to be quite a show.

Scott hit the ball beautifully the entire day and watched one putt after another turn away from the hole. But he also received perhaps the biggest break of the tournament when his shot into the par-5 13th spun back off the green and was headed down the slope into the tributary of Rae's Creek when it suddenly stopped, a blessing from a day spent in the rain. He got up-and-down for birdie, and he two-putted for birdie on the 15th.

Cabrera wasn't so fortunate. Playing in the group behind, his approach hit the bank and tumbled down into the water, leading to a bogey that cost him the lead. Cabrera answered with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th, however, that gave him a share of the lead.

And then came a one-two punch of birdies. For the fans who endured a soggy final round, this made up for it.

Two players. Two clutch birdies. Two different celebrations.

Scott screamed at the top of his lungs, ''C'mon, Aussie!'' and clapped hands forcefully with caddie Steve Williams when his 20-foot birdie putt curled around the left side of the cup – just like Phil Mickelson's winning putt in 2004 – and dropped in the back.

Scott was in the scoring room when he looked up and saw Cabrera chase after his approach, pumping his fist when his 7-iron plopped down 3 feet from the cup for a birdie. Cabrera affectionately hugged his son and caddie, Angel Jr., as they walked off the green toward the scoring room.

''It was a split second I thought I'd won,'' Scott said. ''That was the putt we've seen so many guys make to win, and what I thought is it's time for me to step up and see how much I want this. To make a couple putts to win the Masters is just an amazing feeling.''

For Woods, it was another one that got away.

Not even that two-shot penalty on Friday – the product of a wedge that hit the flag and caromed back into the water – would have mattered. Woods figured he would need a round of 65 to win, and he made two bogeys before his first birdie. Even a mild charge on the back nine wasn't going to help him, and he closed with a 70 to tie for fourth with Marc Leishman (72).

''I played well,'' Woods said. ''Unfortunately, I didn't make enough putts.''

He now has gone eight years without winning the Masters, and he has been stuck on 14 majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods is 0-for-15 in the majors since then, a drought Jack Nicklaus never endured until he was 44.

Brandt Snedeker, tied with Cabrera for the lead going into the final round, closed with a 75 and finished five shots behind.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


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.

Getty Images

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.


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


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.”

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.