Down Under, they’re on top of the world

McClatchy news servicesApril 15, 2013 

It began overnight on social media in Australia, hours before three of the country’s best golfers teed off among the top five in the final round of the Masters.

Golf fans anxious for Australia’s first win at Augusta even developed a hashtag: #itsourtime.

Adam Scott obviously thought it was, too.

The affable Queenslander beat Angel Cabrera in a two-hole playoff. The victory was sealed about 9:40 a.m. today local time on Australia’s east coast, nearly five hours after the keenest of fans woke up — at 5 a.m. — to watch the start of the telecast.

Finally, the drought had ended. It was Scott’s first major, and the only major an Australian had never won.

Commuters whooped it up on buses on the way into Brisbane city, the capital of Scott’s home state. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. interrupted a local radio interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to give listeners regular updates on the playoff and the victory. Thousands of others were simply late for work or school, not wanting to leave their television sets until the tournament was finished.

Jessica Korda, a member of the LPGA tour who won last year’s Women’s Australian Open, tweeted: “Adam Scott!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million girls just fell in love.”

Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman were all in the mix in the final round. Day finished third.

Australian Greg Norman made an art form out of not winning at Augusta. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine to take the green jacket from him. In 1987, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff to leave Norman second. In 1996, a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo wasn’t enough when Norman shot a final-round 78.

In his victory speech Sunday night, Scott was gracious in thanking his mentor: “Greg Norman has been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia. Part of this definitely belongs to him.”

Reached at his home in south Florida, Norman told The Associated Press: “I’m over the moon. Sitting there watching Adam, I had a tear in my eye.”

THE KID

At the last hole, Guan Tianlang retrieved his ball from the cup after ending his first Masters. The fans ringing the 18th green gave him a standing ovation. They no doubt were thinking that they had not seen the last of Guan, a 14-year-old from China who finished as the low amateur.

He carded rounds of 73-75-77-75 for a total of 12-over 300. In four days, Guan did not have a double bogey.

Guan’s partner Sunday was Sandy Lyle, the 1988 champion and his senior by 41 years. “He hits the ball quite a reasonable distance at the moment and remember, he’s only 14. Short game is very good,” Lyle said.

TAP-INS

Fred Couples, the 53-year-old 1992 champ from Seattle who was in the lead at the halfway point for the second consecutive year, shot 71 for 287, following a 77 (triple-bogey 7 at the 17th) on Saturday, the second consecutive April that the third round took him out of it. … Defending champ Bubba Watson finished with a 77, for 295, that included a 10 on the par-3 12th, where he deposited three balls into Rae’s Creek.

The Associated Press, The New York Times and the Philadelphia Daily News contributed to this report.

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