AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It had been excruciating for Australians, those decades of seeing all of their Masters hopes go down the drain (counterclockwise). The trend finally was turned on its head Sunday when a native son of the land down under finished right on top. On a soggy day at Augusta National, the green jacket bid a "G'day" to Adam Scott, ending his country's longest golf drought.
Scott made a birdie putt on the second playoff hole, after making a dramatic birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, to defeat Angel Cabrera in a thrilling rainy finish that drew emphatic roars. It also reversed 77 years of April angst in Australia.
"I guess when I get home, I'll find out," the 32-year-old said. "We're a proud sporting country and we feel like we're the best at everything, like any proud sporting country. Golf is a big sport at home, with a long list of great players. This was one thing in golf that we hadn't been able to achieve. It's amazing that it's my destiny to be the first Aussie to win. Just incredible."
Countryman Jason Day, who had led on the back nine but fell to third with bogeys on two of the last three holes, said, "I'm really happy for Adam right now."
Scott is the son of a golf pro -- whom he hugged behind the 10th green after the climactic putt there -- and a kindred spirit of millions on the continent where the seasons (and drainage) run the opposite of here. His own struggles mirrored those of his country. Despite being considered one of the top players in his generation, he never had won a major championship. His disappointment and frustration peaked at last year's British Open, which he seemed to have in his grasp before letting it slip with bogeys on the final four holes.
Instead of allowing it to deflate him, he said, "It did give me more belief that I could win a major."
That belief was tested when he couldn't seem to get anything going (especially on the surprisingly slow greens) on the front nine, and when his ball nearly trickled into the water on No. 13 (it stayed up, he made birdie). "That was a great break," he said.
Scott celebrated the birdie putt on 18 that temporarily gave him the lead at 9 under par after a 69. He shouted, high-fived caddie Steve Williams and shouted "C'mon Aussie!" -- part of a popular song at home, "C'mon, Aussie, C'mon."
But Cabrera, 43, a two-time major champion from Argentina, put his approach on the 18th within two feet and made a birdie for a 70 to force a playoff. It was the first time two players ever birdied the final hole to force a Masters playoff. And it was quite a playoff, with Cabrera's chip on the first hole, No. 18, and his putt on the second, No. 10, each catching a piece of the lip.
"My heart was about to stop," Scott said.
His iron play and putter did not stop, though. His approach into the second playoff hole was closer than Cabrera's, and Cabrera actually gave Scott a congratulatory thumbs-up sign. Scott recalled that after the 2009 Presidents Cup, a World squad teammate pulled him aside and said, "You're a great, great player." The teammate was Cabrera.
"Angel is a great man," Scott said Sunday night.
The winner's thoughts were on another man, his hero, mentor and countryman Greg Norman, whose Masters history was filled with heartache. "Part of this is for him because he has given me so much time and inspiration and belief," Scott said. "I drew on that a lot today."
Soon he will get the kind of welcome no one from his country ever has had. "I'm a proud Australian," Scott said. "And I hope this sits really well back at home."