by G. Rennie
The drama that unfolded at Augusta Sunday evening had me up and out of my chair, hollering like a fool in celebration of one great shot followed by another. The thrills provided by Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera down the back side of Augusta National and into the two playoff holes are what we’ve come to expect from the Championship that always delivers compelling competition. Their exploits have been well chronicled here and in other media outlets and I won’t rehash that storyline now.
I’d rather talk about the quality of the two golfer’s involved- their personal traits of sportsmanship, generosity of spirit and respect for the game were as impressive as those birdie putts, crushing drives and pin seeking approach shots.
Cabrera is called El Pato (The Duck) but he’s more a lumbering bear, casually mastering the toughest challenges. And when his fine iron shot into 10 green was bettered by Scott’s he flashed the Aussie a “thumbs up” sign of appreciation! When have we seen that before in the final round of a major tournament? Never. That show of respect from Cabrera added to the aura of mystery that surrounds this Argentine who plays sporadically, travels globally and, every once in a while, shows up in America to win a major. He’s done it twice and damn near did it again Sunday. It was a Spanish language version of the Jack and Jackie Nicklaus saga from ’86 as Angel had Angel Jr. on the bag. In the end it was not to be but he emulated Jack in the graceful manner in which he accepted his defeat, with warm congratulations to his friend Adam. He told the press that he was happy for his former President’s Cup teammate and partner and that ” Adam deserved to win”.
The press conference that took place after the Green Jacket Ceremony was nearly as compelling as the play before it with Adam Scott revealing so much of himself. He talked about the disappointment of last year’s Open Championship but also the knowledge gained in that trial that he was capable of winning a major. “I knew I could win a major,” he said. Scott was thoughtful in all his responses and gave special notice and tribute to two gents. First he spoke of the important role Greg Norman played in his development and in his finally winning a major. There was the inspiration as the swashbuckling world number 1 when Scott was a youngster but later on came the personal relationship, the mentoring, the friendship. He pointed out the risk Norman took (and abuse he got) when Greg made him a captain’s pick on the International side at the 2009 President’s Cup. He talked about the debt all Aussie golfers owed Norman. I think that debt, at least in part, has been settled as an Aussie finally has donned a Green Jacket.
He then spoke of his dad who he described as the constant presence in his life, who ” let him be himself, let his golf game develop.” It was apparent that Adam thought his father’s restraint was critical to his own development and he acknowledged that the free rein he was afforded was probably a bit difficult to muster as his dad was, and is, a pro golfer himself. Dad was there at the 10th green to greet Adam with a congratulatory hug.
They say that “Golf doesn’t build character, it reveals it”. That is surely what happened yesterday at The Master’s.