Adam Scott has been one of the most promising young golfers in the world since he turned pro in 2000. Prior to Sunday, he had eight wins on the PGA tour but had not captured a major victory. As a result, many had been quick to label the 32-year-old a “choker.”
Before the 2013 Masters, Scott struggled to hit the one or two big shots he needed to win a major. Never was that more evident than at the 2012 Open Championship, when Scott battled Ernie Els to the finish but came up just short. He was also the runner-up at the 2011 Masters and finished 8th last year. On Sunday, Scott showed us that the choker label was slapped on him far too early in his career.
Pressure? For starters, no Australian had ever won the Masters. This was a fact that everyone in the field was very aware of, with Australian legend Greg Norman — who is one of the greatest golfers to ever live — having come close but never getting it done. Entering the final round at Augusta National on Sunday, Scott and two other Aussies — Jason Day and Marc Leishman — were in a great position to capture a Green Jacket for their nation. Because of his history of coming up just short in majors, there wasn’t much optimism surrounding Scott.
As if the pressure of representing an entire country wasn’t enough, Scott also overcame some incredible circumstances at the end of the final round to hold off the far more experienced Angel Cabrera. Scott and Cabrera were tied at 8-under as Cabrera watched and waited from the fairway of the 18th while Scott lined up his birdie attempt. The Australian was able to control his nerves and roll it in, and for a few minutes it appeared that he had the tournament wrapped up.
That was until Cabrera stuck his approach shot a few feet from the pin. He sunk his tap-in birdie and forced extra holes. Both golfers parred the 18th (the first hole of the playoffs) in sudden death, but Scott bested Cabrera with a birdie on the 10th. It took another tricky 12-foot putt to seal the deal.
Simply put, you couldn’t have packed more pressure into a one-hour span if you tried. Scott had to get his emotions in check after thinking he had the Green Jacket won on the 18th of regulation and basically go out and win it again. Perhaps we are too hard on golfers who come up just short time and time again. Winning your first major — a Green Jacket — at age 32 isn’t exactly something to be ashamed of.