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Australians rejoice after Scott’s Masters victory
Question of the Day
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - It began overnight on social media in Australia, hours before three of the country’s best golfers teed off among the top five in the final round of the Masters in pursuit of that elusive green jacket.
Golf fans anxious for Australia’s first win at Augusta National even developed their own hashtag: itsourtime.
Adam Scott obviously thought it was, too.
The affable Queenslander beat Angel Cabrera in a two-hole playoff. The victory was sealed about 9:40 a.m. Monday local time on Australia’s east coast, nearly five hours after the keenest of fans woke up _ at 5 a.m. _ to watch the start of the telecast from Georgia.
Finally, the drought had ended. It was Scott’s first major, and the only major an Australian had never won.
Commuters whooped it up on buses on the way into Brisbane city, the capital of Scott’s home state. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. interrupted a local radio interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to give listeners regular updates on the playoff and the victory. Thousands of others were simply late for work or school, not wanting to leave their television sets until the tournament was finished.
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.
Golf Australia tweeted “quite simply, the most magnificent Monday imaginable.” Australian pro Marcus Fraser, who plays mostly on the European Tour, said “still speechless!”
Jessica Korda, a member of the LPGA tour who won last year’s Women’s Australian Open, tweeted: “Adam Scott!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million girls just fell in love.”
Before the result was known, The Australian national newspaper underscored some of the frustration _ and pressure _ on the country’s golfers.
“Three Aussies share Masters burden,” blared a headline on its website, with the first line of the story reading: “This time, a nation’s expectations won’t fall on to the shoulders of just one man.”
Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman were all in the mix in the final round. Day finished in third.
But the Australian telecaster, Network Ten, may have jinxed at least one them.
The network sent a TV crew to the Warnambool Golf Club in southern Victoria, Leishman’s home club. They went live to the clubhouse during the telecast, but there were few cheering opportunities as Leishman finished with a 72 and was tied for fourth with Tiger Woods, four behind the closing 9-under totals of Scott and Cabrera.
Day, who shot 70 along with Cabrera, finished third, two behind the leading pair.
Scott and Day came close in 2011 at Augusta but were left stranded by South African champion Charl Schwartzel’s late run of four consecutive birdies, and the Australians finished tied for second.
Another Australian, 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, also was in the hunt that year, but finished tied for fourth, four shots behind. Ogilvy didn’t qualify this year.
Greg 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.
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 went to the gym when the final group made the turn. He headed home for the last four holes and was texting with friends, his emotions shifting 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 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 at Rio in 2016.
A lot of Urban’s mates appeared to agree, with nearly 400 congratulatory Scott retweets sent out not soon after.
The win seemed to transcend all sports in Australia, with former star cricketer Shane Warne calling Scott’s winning putt “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 miscue 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? (hashtag)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 sounding board on suggestions for next year’s champions dinner at Augusta, with Scott getting to call the shots on the menu.
Will it be crocodile canapés, emu burgers, kangaroo steaks or even koala-shaped cupcakes for dessert? Whatever, it should probably be pretty interesting after waiting all these years.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this story from Augusta, Georgia.
Follow Dennis Passa on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DennisPassa
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