With an entire country waiting nearly 80 years for a champion to cheer on or for at the most famous and prestigious of all majors, the Masters, the Aussie’s were presented with three native’s on the threshold of victory on the same day. Jason Day, Mark Leishman and Adam Scott all had a realistic chance of winning the 2013 Masters, providing the thrill and pleasure of triumph to a nation thirsted for it for close to eight decades.
After Jason Day birdied three consecutive holes on the back nine, it seemed as if he had the best chance of the three to win. With bogeys at 16 and 17 his chances were quickly squandered. Leishman played solid, shooting an even par 72, but it wouldn’t be enough. Adam Scott set the stage for a showdown with another underdog from four years ago, Angel Cabrera. Cabrera was in a similar situation four years earlier when he had the entire country of Argentina awaiting for their first Masters winner as well; especially after the famous Roberto Di Vincenzo incorrect scorecard error of 1968.
Throughout major championship history, there have been many players with the pressure of their country’s hopes on their shoulders. Here’s a few:
- After the first 30 years of majors in golf history only players from Scotland won until John Ball from England earned the 1890 Open Championship.
- Another 16 years would pass with champions only from the UK. Then a stunning win from the first ever Frenchman, Arnaud Massy, in the 1907 Open Championship.
- It wouldn’t be until 61 years of major championship golf has passed before the first American would win. John McDermont felt all of America’s pressure to be the first to win the U.S. Open in 1911, 16 years after the inaugural event.
- Bobby Locke put South African golf on the map in 1949 by winning The Open Championship.
- One of the more recent, comparable (and improbable) victories was Y.E. Yang’s win at the 2009 PGA Championship over world #1, Tiger Woods. South Korea exploded with elation and gratitude for gracing the country with such an accomplishment.
There were other examples such as Seve Ballesteros and Mike Weir, but no country has felt the heartbreak as many times as Australia. With so many great players in history coming from ‘The Land Down Under”, one would’ve thought that a Masters victory was assumed. Greg Norman, most famously had the tournament in his hands on more than one occasion. A falter at the end, or unlucky “Golf Gods” prevented him from honoring his country with a victory.
No such things would happen to Scott. Scott birdied the 18th hole in regulation, which at the time made a victory seem eminent. He raised his hands in glory while screaming “C’mon, Aussies”! With Cabrera in the 18th fairway, Scott looked on while his mind was racing along with his heart. Cabrera stuffed his approach shot within two feet and a playoff was now Scott’s focus.
Before the playoff started, you could see the intent and focus on Scott’s face on the putting green. One playoff hole wasn’t enough for the two, and the second playoff hole was the par four, 10th hole. Both players hit the fairway and the green to give themselves good birdie opportunities. Cabrera, up first, missed his putt, setting the stage for Scott. Scott carefully examined his putt, struggling to make an accurate read due to the sunlight quickly fading on the darkest hole of Augusta National. He called in his caddie, Stevie Williams, for another read. Williams added some insight, telling Scott to allow for more break. Once the putt was struck, an entire nation, and Scott, held its breath while the ball rolled for what seemed to be an eternity. As the ball disappeared in the hole, so did all of Australia’s years of grief and heartbreak.
This was truly one of the best moments of 2013 and possibly one of the best moments in Masters history! What will this year’s story be?