He’s devilishly good looking, a multi-millionaire and one of the best golfers in the world. Everything about Adam Scott says I should despise him with every ounce of jealous rage.
(Of course, if I spent my days worrying about everyone who is handsomer, richer and a better golfer than me, I’d get very little done…)
I had the pleasure of meeting Adam a couple of years ago at a launch party in Surrey. And even though I sensed he’d rather be anywhere else in the world than on a frozen putting green chattering away into my Dictaphone, he was eager, charming and funny.
Now, at the age of 32, he is a major champion. Australia’s first Masters winner at that.
The 2013 Masters wasn’t a classic and it refused to step it up a gear until the 72nd hole. Slow play and illegal drop controversies aside, there was little exhilarating golf being played, while nobody wanted to make the traditional Sunday charge.
But everything about Scott’s playoff victory over Angel Cabrera embodied the spirit of this beautiful game.
And, as I discovered while doing a bit of reading while waiting for the playoff to start, the pair have 'previous.'
When the Australian was picked by compatriot Greg Norman for the 2009 Presidents Cup, he was out of sorts, out of form and out of favour. It wasn’t a popular decision. But Cabrera, then Masters champion, took Norman to one side. “I’ll play with him,” he told his captain.
The pair lost their match that week, but the faith showed by Norman and Cabrera revived Scott’s slumping career and he went on to have stellar seasons in 2010 and 2011, including four top-eight finishes in the majors.
At last year’s Open Championship, Scott stood on the 15th tee four shots clear of the field. We all know what happened next. But he didn’t sulk; he didn’t shy away from the media – two reactions that would have been perfectly understandable. He came out and faced the cameras and answered every question with a dignity and poise. A reaction which earned him the respect of the watching world.
Nine months later, and it was a reaction of polar opposites which showed just how much it all meant to him. Scott, who hasn’t made a putt all day on the rain-soaked Augusta greens, suddenly finds his touch on 18 and unleashes a celebration so strident that it’s actually surprising. The demons had been banished.
The celebrations were short-lived. Sitting in the scorer’s hut signing for a final-round 69, Scott looks up at the television screen just in time to see Cabrera stiff it to within gimme range. He swings his head round and shares a knowing smile with caddie Steve Williams.
It was like your football team had scored in the last minute of the cup final, only for the opposition to equalise in added time. Much of the golfing world had already concluded that Scott didn’t have the mental fortitude to go on and defeat his Argentinean friend.
But there was something about his demeanour heading to the playoff. The fragile state witnessed at Lytham all those months ago was replaced with a steely focus of devastating conviction.
That all disappears in a flash as the camera captures a beautiful moment where Cabrera, taking cover from the Georgia rain under his large umbrella, offers a thumbs-up to his rival. Scott returns a beaming smile.
Two holes on and the celebrations are reignited. This time it’s more reserved. The realisation of his achievement and the subsequent relief in Scott’s eyes leaves a lump in the throat.
Tiger’s “in your life” chip-in back in 2005 still sends a shiver down my spine every time I see it. I have no doubt Scott’s putt at the second playoff hole will have the same effect for many years to come.
The underachiever tag is gone. In golf, nice guys do finish first.