Wednesday 22 November 2017

Adam Scott finds a little extra to see off Cabrera in epic finale

Adam Scott, of Australia, celebrates after making a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the Masters
Adam Scott, of Australia, celebrates after making a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the Masters

Karl McGinty

ADAM SCOTT sparked frenzied breakfast-time celebrations in his native Australia as he brought his country’s grim drought at the Masters to a close with a sensational play-off win over Angel Cabrera in the gloaming at Augusta National.

Scott holed a 15-foot putt for birdie to deny gallant 43-year-old Cabrera his second Masters title and third Major triumph on the second tie hole, Augusta’s 10th, where Bubba Watson had produced a shot of the ages to beat Louis Oosthuizen last year.

This time the loser played the best shot of the championship, Argentinian Cabrera hitting a phenomenal seven-iron to 30 inches at the 72nd hole for birdie to force a tie on nine-under.

Revelling in the rain, El Pato (the Duck) was hoping to become the second-oldest man to win the Masters after Jack Nicklaus and the first since the Golden Bear to have his son (Angel Jnr, 22) on the bag.

Scott expended a torrent of energy after holing an 18-foot putt for a birdie of his own at the last to edge one clear of Cabrera for the first time. “Come on Aussie,” he roared, exchanging a jubilant high-five with caddie Stevie Williams.

Accepting a small Australian flag from a spectator, Scott waved it with gusto as he headed up the tunnel to the scorer’s area. The 32-year-old tied second here with fellow countryman Jason Day behind Charl Schwartzel in 2011, and was victim of an harrowing Sunday collapse at Lytham last summer, when he surrendered the British Open to Ernie Els with four straight finishing bogeys.

As his back was being pummelled by fans as he walked off that 18th green, Scott clearly believed he’d brought his nation’s long wait for Masters glory to an end with his 69.

His round turned on an outrageous stroke of fortune at hole 15, when his approach to the prettiest par-five in golf bounced right on the edge of the hazard and somehow stayed up. He made birdie there and another at 15 before that superb putt for three at the final hole put him ahead.

Cabrera was not yet ready to give up his chance of become the first grandfather to win a Green Jacket on the 90th birthday of Roberto de Vicenzo, the father of golf in Argentina.

After watching all this drama unfold from mid-fairway, he accepted a seven-iron from his son and hit the shot of the millennium to 30 inches, shouting ‘vuela, vuela’ (fly, fly) after his ball as it made its 163-yard journey. Birdie there sealed a final-round 70 for the world number 269 and forced the play-off.

Having bounded clear of the field as he played the front nine in two-under, Cabrera faltered as he dropped a shot out of the trees on 10, then another at 13, where he hit his approach off the pine straw into the creek fronting the green.

Day looked firmly in control at this point. After leaping into contention by holing from the greenside bunker for an eagle three at the second, he wobbled through the turn but then made the first of a hat-trick of birdies out of the back bunker at 13. Yet the 25-year-old’s campaign would falter as he missed a five-foot par putt at 16 and dropped another shot out of a greenside trap at 17, leaving Scott and Cabrera to fight it out. Scott’s victory means he is the fourth player from the last six Majors to win using a long putter.

Tiger Woods, who controversially evaded disqualification on Saturday after being given a two-stroke penalty for making an illegal drop on the 15th fairway the previous evening, never got close enough during yesterday’s final-round 70 to suggest he might don a fifth Green Jacket, albeit stained.

For the second year in succession, he failed to break 70 at Augusta National.

Starting the final round at three-under, four behind joint-leaders Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker, he stalled early.

His iron player was imprecise and his putting touch deserted him as he three-putted for bogey at five and dropped another shot out of a greenside bunker at seven.

“I had a problem adjusting to the speed of the greens. They were much slower than yesterday even before it rained and I struggled to get the ball to the hole,” said Woods, who’d set himself a target of 65 to track down the leaders.

At nine, Tiger made the first of four birdies in seven holes which would propel him to five-under and, ultimately a share of fourth place with yet another Aussie, Marc Leishman and Snedeker.

FedEx Cup champion Snedeker (33), who trailed Cabrera by two through the turn, blew his chances at ten, where he missed a par putt from three feet.


Clearly shaken, Snedeker three-putted 11 for bogey, his feeble first effort stopping 12 feet short as he slipped back to five-under. He made bogey out of the creek fronting 13 and birdied 15 and Snedeker, who ended up in tears and a tie for third behind Trevor Immelman in the 2008 Masters after a final-round 78, had to settle for a closing 74.

Bernhard Langer (55) marked the 20th anniversary of his second Masters win by forcing himself into contention with birdies on the first three holes. However, the rain, which began to teem down as he played the seventh, weighed against the German, already at a length disadvantage to the leaders and he slumped to a 76 and a tie for 25th with Rory McIlroy on two-over .

Defending champion Bubba Watson and Kevin Na both made nightmare 10s at the par-three 12th hole. Watson knocked three in the water, including one from the back bunker. He shared 50th on seven-over after a closing 77.

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