AUGUSTA, Ga. — As his 25-foot birdie putt found the bottom of the cup on the 18th hole Sunday, Adam Scott reared back and shouted, “C’mon, Aussie!”
The phrase refers to what is, in Australia at least, a famous cricket anthem. Little did the Aussie know at that moment how far he still had to go to win the Masters.
In a duel of clutch, pressure-packed performances, 2009 Masters champion AngelCabrera launched a ball through the rain beating down on Augusta National Golf Club to within 3 feet of the cup.
After his birdie, they headed to a sudden death playoff. Both parred the 18th, then Scott rammed home a birdie in the gloaming, a 15-footer for the victory on the 10th.
Five months ago, Scott won the Australian version of the Masters and donned the tournament’s gold jacket. On Sunday, he won the first Masters by an Australian and claimed the coveted green jacket.
“I don’t know how that happens,” Scott said just before 2012 champion Bubba Watson slipped the jacket over his shoulders in Augusta National’s Butler Cabin. “It seems a long way from a couple of years ago and even last July, when I was trying to win another major.”
Scott, who finished two strokes back of Charl Schwartzel here in 2011, had both hands on the Claret Jug at last July’s British Open, but he stunningly bogeyed the last four holes at Royal Lytham and St. Annes to hand the ancient trophy to Ernie Els.
“I can do a better job of it,” Scott said then.
On Sunday he did, under almost unbelievable pressure.
Trailing Cabrera and former Vanderbilt golfer Brandt Snedeker by one entering the final round, Scott found himself bouncing up and down the leaderboard in the kind of back-nine Sunday drama the Masters almost always seems to deliver.
Snedeker faded by going 3-over on the back nine, and four-time champion Tiger Woods struggled to unlock the code to the speed of greens slowed by a steadily thickening rain.
What remained over the final four holes of regulation was essentially a three-man duel among Cabrera, Scott and fellow Australian Jason Day.
Day birdied the par-5 15th hole to take the outright lead at 9-under, but he gave it back with bogeys from the back fringe on the par-3 16th and a greenside bunker on the par-4 17th. When Day managed only par on 18, he finished 7-under and left the closing drama to Scott and Cabrera.
Playing a group ahead of Cabrera and Snedeker, Scott dropped his second shot onto the 18th green 25 feet right of the cup and rammed home the putt to shoot 69 and finish at 9-under. It looked like shrimp on the barbie for everyone until Cabrera stiffed his approach shot on 18 to force the 10th sudden-death playoff in Masters history.
The two returned to the 18th tee. With Scott hitting first, both split the fairway, came up just short of the green and got up and down for pars.
On the par-4 10th, both found the fairway again. Cabrera nestled an approach shot 18 feet below the cup while Scott was pin high 15 feet to the right.
Cabrera’s putt looked good, but it shaved the lip on the high side and stayed up. With the potential of having to resume the playoff Monday if he missed, Scott got caddie Steve Williams to help him line up the putt through the gathering darkness and rammed it home.
“I said, ‘Do you think it’s just more than a cup?’ ” Scott said he asked Williams. “He said, ‘It’s at least two cups, it’s going to break more than you think.’
“I said, ‘I’m good with that.’ He was my eyes on that putt. I started it on line, and it managed to hang in and go in the left half. An amazing feeling.”
Cabrera, ranked No. 269 in the world coming into the Masters, gave Scott a thumbs-up for his second shot as they walked to the 10th green, then embraced the first-time major champion after it was over.
“(I told him) I was happy for him,” the Spanish-speaking Cabrera said through an interpreter, “that I know that he deserved it and that he was going to eventually win it. It was just a matter of time.”
On another tough day for scoring, former LSU golfer and 2001 PGA champion David Toms fired a 5-under 67 to share low round of the day with former Tulane and Alabama golfer Michael Thompson. Toms finished at 1-under 287 and in a tie for 13th, one spot out of automatically qualifying for the 2014 Masters.
Former Tiger John Peterson also will have to earn his way back after finishing 60th in his first visit. The 2011 NCAA champion struggled with his putting all week and shot an 80 Sunday to finish at 14-over 302.
While Scott was putting on the green jacket, 14-year-old Chinese sensation Tianlang Guan was being honored as this year’s low amateur. Guan was the only one of six amateurs in the field to make the 36-hole cut despite a one-stroke penalty Friday for slow play, the first in Masters history. He shot a 77 on Sunday to finish in 58th as the youngest person to make the cut in a major.
Guan, who spent a month in New Orleans last summer after trying to qualify at Lakewood Golf Club for the U.S. Open, said he hopes to visit there soon.