The Masters: Great Scott!
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/14/13
On Saturday at Augusta National, the news revolved around Rule 33-7, added just two year ago, that saved Tiger Woods from a DQ. On Sunday, the weather ruled — and only two players were able to factor that into their games, and were neck and neck down the stretch. And now, it really is "Morning in Australia."
The Long and the Short of it:
What was so shocking is that almost nobody in the field took into account the increasing rainfall, which slowed the greens, made the air heavier, and affected ball-flight all through the field. Even Tiger Woods dump[ed his approach at the closing hole into the front left bunker.
For awhile, Brandt Snedeker looked like he would hang tough, but bogeys at 4 and 5 sent him down a slippery slope. After leaving putts short at 10 and 11, both he and Angel Cabrera shockingly found Rae's Creek, fronting the 13th green. Snedeker saved par, but bogeyed 14, almost sunk his approach shot at 15 into the water, and struggled to a 75.
The rise and fall...
55-year-old Bernhard Langer, the 1985 and 1993 Masters champion, also raced out of the gate with three consecutive birdies, but bogeyed 6 and 7, then coughed up another shot to par at 10. After doubling 12, the gentlemanly German fell off the leaderboard with a thud.
Jason Day exploded out of the gate, birdieing 1 and then holing a bunker shot for an eagle at 2. But he mis-read his par putt at 6, then put his tee-shot at 9 into the woods, resulting in another bogey. At 13, Day pushed right into pine straw, then made an admirable approach into the back bunker. His utterly magnificent bunker shot glided down to within a couple of feet, leaving him a badly-needed birdie attempt… which he canned. At 5:43 p.m. EDT, Day took sole possession of the lead with a birdie at 15, but gave two shots back at 16 and 17, ultimately finishing solo third.
After his round, Tiger Woods told Bill Macatee that he felt he needed to shoot a 7-under 65 to win it. Smart man that he is, Woods would prove to be correct. Unfortunately for himself, Woods needed a Herculean effort to save par on the first two holes, and didn't get below par for the day until the 13th hole. He finished tied for fourth, four shots in arrears.
At 4:15 pm EDT, Snedeker, Cabrera, Day, Scott, and Marc Leishman were still the primary contenders, but the herd would get thinned out shortly thereafter.
The Mighty Duck and the man from Adelaide
Adam Scott started the day two shots down and slowly made his way up the leaderboard, carding only one bogey all day, at the first, and birdied the 3rd to hang in at -6.
“El Pato,” Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters champion, missed a delicious eagle attempt following a monumental tee-shot and outstanding approach at 2, but picking up a birdie to get to -8. After a birdie at 7, both Cabrera and Snedeker blacked their tee-shots right at 10. Cabrera would recover; Snedeker would not. Then both shockingly dumped their approach shots into Rae's Creek at 13, costing "El Pato" a bogey, which he finally got back at 16, pouring a birdie putt down the middle at 6:25 p.m. EDT.
Just before that, Adam Scott also landed short of the green at 13. Perhaps just by the grace of God, Scott's ball did not roll down into the water, but hung up in the rough within the hazard line. Scott capitalized with a birdie.
Scott just missed an eagle attempt at 15, then parred 16 and 17, sending him to an 18th hole that he had never birdied on a Sunday. Following a fine tee-shot, Scott got to the ride side of the green, hole-high. Cabrera, tied with Scott for the lead and playing in the group behind him, pounded a fine tee shot into the right side of the fairway. At 6:50 p.m. EDT, Scott sunk his monumental bomb of a putt. "UNREAL," exclaimed Jim Nantz, barely audible on CBS Television over a thunderous and reverberating ovation.
Meanwhile, Cabrera was standing in the fairway and trying to keep his hands warm, probably also knowing that he had never birdied the 72nd hole in regulation in the Masters. With the rain pounding down even harder than before, Cabrera factored the rainfall into his distance, and simply ripped it right at the flag, the ball coming down just two feet away. Needing the birdie to get into a playoff, "El Pato" calmly stroked it in at exactly 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Both Cabrera and Scott found the fairway on the first playoff hole at 18, leaving their approaches on the apron just short of the green. Neither could sink their birdie chip, although Cabrera burned the right edge of the jar.
Sir Nick Faldo predicted that on their approach shots to 10, they would have to play more than 2/3 of the way into the green. But while Cabrera put his approach about halfway in, Scott gets his approach where Faldo said to, hole-high and to the right. Cabrera's birdie attempt just hung over the right edge, above the hole. By then, under overcast skies and with the gloaming closing in rapidly, Scott asked caddie Steve Williams to read the putt, which was approximately two balls right. With a seemingly otherworldly calm, Scott stroked home the birdie at 7:38 p.m. EDT.
Later, with Jim Nantz and Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne in Butler Cabin, Scott said, "I don’t how how that happened. It felt a long way away, even last July," referencing his close call at the 2012 Open Championship. Scott then graciously gave a verbal nod to Greg Norman. Low amateur Tianlang Guan said, "I learned a lot from the top players, and had fun," maintaining his unusually mature and stoic manner.
Then at 7:52 p.m. EDT, Adam Scott got the Green Jacket, and advanced Australia fair.
Image via Flickr, pocketwiley
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