My biggest fear coming back to Augusta was that my expectations couldn’t possibly be topped after our incredible experience in 2011. We’ve obviously been very fortunate to be here for two tournaments that’s had Aussies in contention right through Sunday, but this was very special. For Scotty & every Australian who’ve ever followed our tribulations at Augusta National, all the unfinished business and demons were chastised in a stirring final 6-8 holes.
Augusta, more than any other major or course, is the place that validates a players career. Here, Masters Champions are revered – tradition counts – and every victor is invited back to play & revel in the atmosphere for the rest of their life. It’s the most elite club in golf. Against that context, because of our chequered history here and because he’s such a humble, personable and balanced guy, Adam Scott makes a thoroughly deserving winner. Let’s hope the floodgates open from here on in.
Much has been said and written about this one already – here’s a few highlights from the final day, course & week:
- It might be the way we do it, but Sunday at the Masters always seems to present some form of physical challenge. Last time it was fast-walking 36 holes in extreme heat, trading off adrenalin with exhaustion, dehydration & fulsome bladders. This time, we were soaked through, but feeling no pain until we made it to 18 to see the last three groups come in (& the first playoff hole). Fifty-five minutes stationary, pin-high, 5 rows back was enough to trigger a bit of hypothermia (especially with Uri) or at least a case of man flu on the return to work this week. Next time I’ll be better prepared.
- Once again, we bonded particularly well with the Australian players & their entourages all week. Dressing up in the Australian flag suit definitely helps, but they’re accessible and open to a pump-along. We followed Sendo for 8 holes in the morning before splitting the man-love pretty evenly across the big three – ‘Scotty’, ‘Jas’ & ‘Leichy’ – over the front nine. Scotty just couldn’t get the putter going, missing makeable opportunities on 8 & 9 that I sincerely feared would haunt him. Attention swung hard to Jas after birdies at 13, 14 & 15, with premature talk of the after party muted by devastating bogies on 16 & 17. Meanwhile, Cabrera stomped around the course menacingly, rolling putts to the hole and building off his great Friday afternoon round. Scotty ramped from 13 with a booming drive & an amazing break from Rae’s creek that proved our luck here was about to turn. Birdie at 15 & solid 2-putt pars at 16 & 17 set up for the magic of 18. Draining the putt was truly climatic & felt like the scripted finish we were meant to have. Then we got all bipolar after Scotty’s incredible birdie was quickly followed by a foreboding sense of Schwartzel de javu when Cabrera flushed it to within 3 feet to square it up & take it into the playoff. First hole & Cabrera’s chip looks in & all I can think of is Larry Mize. Then it’s a slip & slide down the hill to the 10th green when I squeezed into the second row to watch the approaches before talking my way into the front row for the final putts (where the pants were definitely an assist). On a dry day, Cabrera’s putt is in but it miraculously holds up, before it all erupts in full with Scotty’s right to left roller. Ding dong, the witch is dead!
- As a spectator wanting to follow someone around, you need a very deliberate plan to navigate the cross-walks & holes to put yourself in the best possible viewing position. Barring the 18th where everyone puts a chair down early and is there at the end, there’s inevitably a vacant chair in the front few rows to grab around tee boxes & greens. This year we over-achieved. At different times, we were literally in seat 1A on 1st tee (high 5’s from Jason’s caddy Cole as they walked off), 3rd green (to see Scotty’s bomb drop), 6th tee & green, 7th green, 8th green, 9th tee, 9th green, 10th tee, 11th tee, 12th tee (a real highlight), 14th green, 16th green & then 18, 19 & the 20th to see it all finish the way it was meant to. (Getting a bit misty eyed as I write that one). No one did it better & I can’t imagine why you would do it any other way. After recognising us again in pole position on the coveted 12th tee on Friday, Adam Scott approached me & Harro saying “jeez you guys have got it sussed” before a bit more banter and some free drinks from Stevie out of the players ice-box. If only my actual course management was as good.
- There’s a bunch of other very special memories to reflect upon including Harro orchestrating our entry into the Media Centre to watch Scotty’s pre-tournament interview. Front row seats on the 6th for the Par 3 Tournament including getting a first bounce hit on the chest from Italian Matteo Manassero, Wayne Grady warning us against excitedly pushing through the ropes like Gav did in 2011, some great banter with Fuzzy, Freddie Couples, IBF, Nick Faldo, Graeme McDowell & Jason Day to name a few. Some precious memories from good nights out and some really sobering morning runs in the Aitken woodlands…
In sum, a win for the good guys & one really good guy in particular. Scotty will win more from now on (until the bellyache begins). I honestly believe that Jason Day will win here. His default setting is to fearlessly attack, he can putt and is humble, likable and uncomplicated – stay tuned. Leichy played very solidly, minimising errors & simply hanging in there and will better for the run.
As I’ve said before, anyone who’s ever been in love with golf needs to try and get here for all this. Get onto to Mosh & Bede’s email list to get the access and experience you need.
Final sign off to my fellow tourists and our hosts – shared experiences are always the most enriching and you guys were fabulous company. A special thanks to my old mate from the (premiership winning) Lane Cove rugby U8’s Dave Singer who encouraged me to go in 2011. That trip was the catalyst for this unforgettable one.
Back to the real world of work tomorrow, but I’m off to the pro shop this weekend to buy some clubs for my boys.
Marty Nicholas | Managing Director BLACKDOT