AUGUSTA, Ga. — He was never Great Scott, just Adam the Nice, Adam the Pretty Good, and more than a few times Adam the Downright Disappointing.
Adam Scott patterned his swing after Tiger Woods and hired his former caddie Steve Williams, but it seemed his career would be a mere shadow image by comparison.
He appeared to have all the talent but none of the heart to win majors. Sure, he won some big tournaments, like The Players and the Tour Championship. But on golf’s biggest stages, he either didn’t contend or didn’t have it.
Nothing was more of an indictment of Scott’s mettle than the British Open last July at Royal Lytham, where he bogeyed Sunday’s final four holes to hand the title to a resurgent Ernie Els.
No one choked on the Claret Jug that badly since Jean Van de Velde, and we all know what happened to him. (Or do we?) Even as Els recounted his victory, he couldn’t help but commiserate with his friend.
“He’s such a great guy and such a great talent,” Els said then. “And so close to being a great superstar.”
It sounded at the time that Els was merely being gracious.
But Sunday at the Masters, under as much pressure as anyone could stand, Scott was great.
With the rain beating down and an Argentine bulldog named Angel Cabrera breathing down his logoed white shirt, Scott rammed home a 25-foot birdie putt on 18 that it turned out he needed just to force a playoff with the 2009 Masters winner.
You would have thought the man nicknamed “El Pato” (The Duck) would have been better suited to the damp conditions that loomed over the sudden-death playoff. But after both got up and down for pars on the first playoff hole, Cabrera’s 18-footer hung on the lip on the second.
Again, you couldn’t face more pressure than Scott had. He had a 15-footer to win. It was raining and getting so dark that there was a decent chance if he missed they would have had to finish the playoff Monday.
But Scott didn’t miss. And like Cabrera, he now owns a green jacket.
Cabrera’s website modestly called him the “Latin American hope” coming into this year’s Masters. Scott was the hope of redemption for an entire legion of Aussie golfers who never managed to win the Masters.
“Everybody questioned whether he could do it,” said Greg Norman, the man who inspired a golfing generation in Australia but also knew major championship heartbreak. “We all knew it. The players know it. I think he’ll go on to win more majors than any other Australian.”
He well may. But for now, it’s enough that Scott won this major. Under these circumstances. With the ghost of Royal Lytham still haunting him.
“Next time,” Scott said then, “and I’m sure there will be a next time, I can do a better job of it.”
In this Masters, no one could have done better.