When Adam Scott won Australia’s first Green Jacket

Australian golf had come within a whisker of claiming the nation's first US Masters, then in 2013 Adam Scott stepped up to the tee.

Adam Scott had cried his heart out when Greg Norman blew a six-shot lead in the final round of the 1996 Masters.

The then-15-year-old was watching at home in Queensland as the Shark succumbed to enormous pressure and failed to win Australia's first Green Jacket.

His hero Norman had a history of finding ways to not win Major Championships and in 2012 Scott had joined him on that inauspicious list.

In the British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes he had led by four strokes with four holes to play and yet somehow contrived to finish second.

Few would have believed that, within a few months, he had risen from that low to claim his first major win at Augusta.

Down but not out

Scott's collapse in the British Open had been a cruel experience.

Majors are supposed to conclude in style, with the galleries cheering the challengers onto every green.

But, as those final four holes stretched on, the volume traveled in the opposite direction.

The only noise that greeted his walk to the 17th green was the sound of thousands of golf fans holding their breath.

At the final hole spectators in the grandstands didn't so much rise from their seats as squirm in them.

It was all so horribly reminiscent of the disintegration of the man he had looked up to at Augusta in 1996 and yet there were also distinct differences.

Key, perhaps, was that Norman's demise had broken him.

He'd cut an understandably disconsolate figure in the aftermath and would win only twice again on the PGA Tour. He was, in any case, nearing the end of his prime.

Scott, in contrast, was still in his heyday. And although bereft at what he had done, he was far from despondent.

"I'm a positive guy," he said within minutes of leaving the course. "I'm optimistic and I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week and use that for next time.

"I played maybe the best golf of my career in a Major Championship.

"That's something I've been working to do for my whole career and finally that's happened."

Going again

Within weeks he found himself heading into the final round of the 2012 PGA Championship in a tie for third and yet he was too far back from Rory McIlroy's lead to impact on the title.

Once more he was keen to focus on the positives.

"In the mix again," he said. "It's been great."

Was his head in a great place or was he saying what he felt ought to be said?

And again

The acid test lay ahead of him the following April.

His next Major start was at the scene of Norman's downfall, attempting to win something none of his compatriots had ever claimed - The Masters.

A quest not only for Green Jacket glory, but also redemption.

Good signs

The omens ahead of the week had been good.

Scott had finished ninth in his Masters debut in 2002, but thereafter struggled to impose himself on the course until finishing 67-67 for a share of second with fellow Australian Jason Day in 2011, and he backed that up with a final round 66 for eighth in 2012.

He'd not only rediscovered his Augusta mojo, he'd also learned to love the final round pin positions.

"2010 was the turning point for me here," he said. "I found a level of comfort on tees, into greens, and around the greens.

"I got my eye in with the golf course and it's shown up in results since then for sure."

He was also in form.

He was a winter winner in Australia (a neat pointer for Augusta winners) and finished third in the Cadillac Championship at Doral in March (another quality hint for Masters success).

"I feel like I've got all of the boxes ticked and now it's down to execution," he said.

C'mon Aussie

When he opened with a three-under-par 69, just his second sub-70 opening lap at Augusta National in 12 attempts, it was obvious that he was a leading contender.

Conditions were tougher in the second round, but a level-par round of 72 kept him in-contention.

"It's going to be an interesting weekend," he said, little knowing just how interesting.

Another round of 69 on Saturday moved him to within one shot of the co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera, one blow ahead of fellow Aussies Day and Marc Leishman.

Norman's ghost continued to loom large and Scott was keen to turn all of the chatter into positives.

"Greg was my idol as a kid," he said. "He was a great role model.

"He handled himself so well (in defeat), especially the one here which was great for us to learn.

"He's going to be excited watching the outcome tomorrow."

On Sunday, Scott trailed the leader Cabrera by two heading out of Amen Corner and was struggling to drain the many birdie putts he gave himself.

He'd learned vital lessons however.

He stayed patient, he believed in his preparation, and he trusted that he was due.

When he reached the final hole he set up yet another par-breaking opportunity, one that would set an imposing clubhouse target and leave him one shot clear of everyone left out on the course.

When it dropped into the hole he not only screamed "C'mon Aussie!" but playing partner Leishman was seen punching the air behind him.

Australia's famous mateship was never more apparent in a golfing setting and yet the drama was far from over.

Atonement

Cabrera also made birdie at the 72nd hole so they replayed the 18th.

When that didn't split them they went to the 10th where their tee shots and approaches left them equidistant from the hole.

The two Presidents Cup team-mates exchanged a look and a thumbs up sign, in recognition of the intensity of the battle.

Then the Argentine's putt stayed on the edge, giving Scott a chance he didn't miss, completing his birdie from 20-feet.

Craig Heatley, chairman of the Augusta National media committee, welcomed Scott to his press conference with words that captured the moment.

"I heard the roar down from the 10th," he said. "Then a second later I heard about 30 million people in Australia all cheering as well."

Scott laughed and said: "With that introduction, I don't know how I'm going to manage."

He'd managed in defeat so coping in triumph was well within his grasp.

"I'm just so proud of myself and everyone around me who has helped me," he said.

"It's amazing that it's my destiny to be the first Aussie to win, just incredible."

The debt to Norman was in no doubt.

"Part of this is for him because he's given me so much time and inspiration and belief.

"I drew on that a lot today. I somehow managed to stay in each shot when I needed to."

The legacy of Lytham was no less crucial.

"Everything I said after the Open is how I felt and I meant it," he said.

"It did give me more belief that I could win a major.

"It proved to me, in fact, that I could."

And he did.

The Aussie challenge in 2021

Can a man from down under emulate Scott his week? The Australians aren't among the favourites, but plenty have good chances.

Cameron Smith finished tied second last November, his second top five in just four visits to Augusta - he's 33/1 with Paddy Power.

Jason Day is a tournament specialist with eight top 30 finishes from his nine appearances and he's priced 40/1 by the same firm.

Paddy Power also rate Scott a 40/1 shot and his mate Leishman, who was also T13th last year, is a tasty 100/1.

READ MORE: Butch Harmon on Rory McIlroy's Masters chances: Bryson battle "a big mistake"

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