MELBOURNE, Australia – The old journalistic saw figured that if the headline was big enough, the story was big enough. But as winter turned to summer on Adam Scott’s Australian homecoming it seemed the scribes and headline writers had pretty much nailed it.
“Storming home,” announced The Age.
“Welcome to Scot-land,” The Courier claimed.
“To greatness,” was The Telegraph’s take.
And, perhaps in the most ambitious of this week’s offerings, The Age added, “Scott may spark golden age.”
If the Australian media sounds a tad hyperbolic they’ve come by it honestly.
Scott’s return to Australia was always going to be a celebration. After 76 attempts, the sporting nation finally can claim a Masters champion, and, to Scott’s credit, he has not soft-peddled the accomplishment or shrunk from the spotlight.
At last week’s Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast, “Scottie” took hundreds of photos with fans while wearing the green jacket and officials proclaimed last Friday green day, with fans and players donning said color to honor the prodigal son’s return with his well-earned spoils.
“Hopefully the weather improves a little and I can bring it out so everyone can see it,” said Scott on Wednesday at Royal Melbourne after a steady downpour cut short the pro-am for this week’s Australian Masters. “It doesn’t get seen too much down here.”
Through all of Greg Norman’s near misses at Augusta National and countless other close calls, the Masters was the one major event that eluded Australia. When Scott proclaimed, “C’mon Aussie!” this spring at Augusta National it was more than a champion’s celebration. It was the ultimate group therapy.
Scott, soft-spoken to the extreme and not prone to histrionics, figured the Masters green jacket is “the holy grail of golf.” So when he arrived home for the first time since that historic Sunday last spring he knew the trip would be much more than another victory lap.
What no one could have known, however, was the measure of Scott’s resolve not to toil in accomplishments. When he opened with a 65 at the Australian PGA most of the fan base was still distracted by Augusta National’s green glare.
By the time he waited out a weather delay on Sunday and lapped the field by four strokes the fan base had finally realized that their Scottie wasn’t finished. The victory secured Scott the Australian Slam with victories in his country’s Open, Masters and now the PGA.
On Wednesday, Scott fed the frenzy even more when he suggested he still had work to do before calling it a calendar.
“People say, as a professional golfer, you haven’t achieved everything if you haven’t won an Open (Championship) at St. Andrews (Scotland). But for an Australian the same can be said for winning an event at Royal Melbourne,” he waxed.
Last year at Kingston Heath, another sand belt gem not far from Royal Melbourne, Scott outlasted Ian Poulter to win his first Australian Masters (officially known as the Talisker Masters). It was the harbinger of what was to come in Georgia the following April, or maybe it was the metaphorical line in the sand following his heartbreak at Lytham when he lost to Ernie Els.
Either way, Scott’s victory on Sunday on the Gold Coast, where he was raised, is the ultimate proof that he has little interest in sentimental swings and ceremonial starts.
“There’ll be time for stopping and reflecting, but I don’t think I really have yet,” he said. “I will get my chance in December to reflect.”
Before that another threshold awaits. A victory at Royal Melbourne would turn a dream season into something that may take longer than a month to digest.
Yet beyond his play, Scott’s greatest accomplishment during his trip home may be that he realizes the gravity of the moment. In a move that is utterly out of character for a player who long ago adopted a less-is-more approach, Scott plans to play four consecutive weeks in Australia.
After this week’s Masters he will team with Jason Day at the World Cup, which will also be played at Royal Melbourne, and finally the Australian Open. A country that idolized Norman in his prime now has a new hero, and despite Scott’s normal inclination to deflect praise he’s embraced the moment in every way.
“With Norman, I felt he was larger than life and I don’t feel like that’s what I’m doing, but I did enjoy seeing so many kids out there (at the Australian PGA),” Scott said. “Hopefully I can help the next bunch of guys come along.”
When Scott arrived in Australia last year there were still demons to be dealt with following his collapse at Lytham, where he squandered a four-stroke lead with four holes to play, and when things got tight against Poulter at the PGA his mind flashed back to that troubled Sunday.
“I didn’t want to make a habit of tournaments slipping away,” he said.
Scott pulled away with a Sunday 67 to win by four and collect the champion’s gold jacket. Before he bolted Kingston Heath he told the assembled masses, “The next jacket is a different color.”
Since then Scott has elevated his game and his accomplishments to justify even the biggest headlines.