Adam Scott makes history; Tiger Woods causes uproar

April 18, 2013 

Somewhere Greg Norman is grinning.

Bobby Jones is probably rolling in his grave.

Let's start with the good from this past Masters, before the obligatory Tiger Woods talk.

Norman, known as the Shark, is arguably the best player Australia has ever produced.

He took the No. 1 world ranking and had several chances to claim a green jacket at Augusta National.

His best chance was the enormous lead he squandered in the final round of the 1996 Masters, which was the last major championship Nick Faldo won.

So alas, Norman's Masters dream eventually proved too elusive for even a shark to snatch.

And so it appeared Australia would have to wait for the green jacket to come to their country.

Fast forward 17 years, and one golfer from the generation Norman inspired made history Sunday.

Adam Scott's playoff victory over Angel Cabrera erased years of frustration at Augusta for the Aussies, becoming the first player from

Down Under to win the Masters.

Woods was the favorite entering the tournament, having earned his No. 1 world ranking back this season and winning three times in five starts.

But it was Scott, whose silky smooth swing was modeled right after Woods during Tiger's peak performing years with former coach Butch Harmon, who ended his major championship drought.

And he did it with the broom handle putter, with a birdie on the second playoff hole - the second straight year the Masters was decided on a second sudden-death hole (Bubba Watson's famous hooked wedge shot got him the title in 2012).

Sunday at Augusta is in the American lexicon as meaning firework-induced thrilling drama.

Well, it took awhile for that to happen this year as it started looking like the race to the green jacket was a matter of attrition with so many players falling down the leaderboard unable to really grasp the tournament for themselves.

There was Jason Day, destined to earn Australia's first Masters title until two late bogeys knocked him from the playoff.

Then there was Scott, who might have modeled his swing after Woods but couldn't replicate Tiger's old clutch putting stroke. He grazed the cup several times, and misfired at other moments.

And finally Cabrera, who bogeyed the 10th and found the water on the 13th, rounded out players searching to just get through the rain-filled final day rather than trying to win the tourney.

That changed on the 72nd hole with Scott's gravity-defying birdie putt (the ball fell in from the low side), and Cabrera's locked-in approach to set up a tap-in tying birdie.

And golf was rewarded with a historic moment shortly after regulation couldn't decide things.

Meanwhile, the talk prior to the final round centered on the controversy surrounding Woods.

After blasting an approach off the flagstick and back into the water on the par-5 15th on Friday, Woods dropped and hit a shot that landed safely on the green.

But his bogey wasn't the right score after he signed his scorecard. That's because Woods made an illegal drop, and it came from a television viewer's call that sparked officials to take action.

Here's my two cents: Woods didn't knowingly drop the ball in the wrong spot to benefit his play, and players aren't subjected to disqualification after a rule change concerning calls made by TV viewers was put in place.

With that said, however, Tiger should have withdrawn from the tournament for the infraction. Sure he didn't do it intentionally, but Bobby Jones once made the ball move unintentionally and famously called a penalty on himself even though nobody saw it and he ended up losing the tournament by a shot.

That's what golf is about: a gentleman's game where honor and knowing the rules are just as important as how well you perform.

Ultimately, the two-shot penalty that was issued nor Tiger's result altered who won the Masters.

That went to Scott and history was made.

The Aussie, though, will have to work on that putting stroke.

His long putter won't be en vogue for much longer. The United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club are making a rule change to ban anchored putters from the game.

Hopefully, viewers won't call in to get anybody DQ'ed before that comes. Otherwise, it might start a trend where people call officials at Tampa Bay Bucs or Rays games to correct any errors made.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at jdill@bradenton.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill

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