Four years after his historic Masters triumph, Adam Scott reflects on a celebration etched in golf folklore – and how another Aussie athlete influenced that iconic fist-pump on Augusta’s 18th green.
It was once a phrase synonymous only with Australian cricket. A catchy jingle that launched the late Kerry Packer’s rebel World Series Cricket competition in the 1970s, celebrating national heroes like Dennis Lillee, the Chappell brothers and Rod Marsh.
But in April 2013, “C’mon Aussie!” took on a whole new meaning – it became arguably the most iconic phrase ever shouted in Australian golf.
Helping its immortalisation was the image of a triumphant Adam Scott gushing green-and-gold patriotism on Augusta National’s 18th green.
To say his homeland appreciated Scott’s tip of the cap during his 2013 Masters victory would be the understatement of the decade. But why did this Adelaide-born Queenslander think of his country, before himself, in the most important moment of his individual sporting career?
“I think there’s probably a long backstory to it,” Scott tells Australian Golf Digest.
Weight of a Nation
Even Americans were ‘rooting’ for Scotty to win that Masters. Granted, there were no local hopes for the Yanks to cheer on in the 2013 sudden-death playoff. But they’d witnessed enough Aussie collapses to embrace a golfer from Down Under donning the coveted green jacket. Greg Norman, of course, owns the three most significant heartbreaks: the 72nd-hole bogey in 1986, the Larry Mize chip-in a year later and the infamous green jacket gift to Nick Faldo in 1996.
Then there was Bruce Crampton, who finished tied for second behind Jack Nicklaus in 1972. And Jack Newton came within a whiff of catching Seve Ballesteros on the back nine in 1980, before finishing runner-up to the Spaniard.
“I spent my whole career playing there, being asked, ‘When is an Australian going to win the Masters?’ Every year I played,” Scott recalls. “And that was talked about to every (Australian) player, not just me. I’d been doing that for about 12 years.
“Even though you block out some of the stuff you have to talk about, media-wise, sometimes it’s still on your mind.”
Scott celebrated on the 72nd hole as though he’d just become the first Australian to win the Masters in its 77th staging, in regulation. But Argentine Angel Cabrera would come up the 18th hole five minutes later and hit the 7-iron of his life, finishing three feet from the flag.
A tap-in birdie to join the lead at 9-under meant Scott would have to face the 2009 Masters winner – the laidback golfer they call ‘El Pato’ – in sudden death before he could end Australia’s Augusta hoodoo.
After both parred the 18th on the first extra playing, the par-4 10th was next.
Scott – and caddie Steve Williams – knew he needed to attack before darkness stopped play. So he hit his approach to 15 feet.
The rest, they say, is history.
“There it is! Adam Scott. A life changer!”
Although there were memorable scenes of Scott half-sobbing tears of joy on the 10th green with his arms raised to the sky, “C’mon Aussie!” on the 72nd will always stand out.
0“It was just kind of what I blurted out … I’m lucky I blurted out something that could be said on TV,” Scott laughs. “Obviously, winning the Masters is the biggest win of my life (and) I just felt it was something big for Aussie sport.”
Never Say Never
Perhaps it wasn’t just jubilation, but also shock that it was Scott who would be champion that Sunday.
Compatriot Jason Day’s confidence was soaring after going close to winning the Masters in 2011, and two years later Day was leading with three holes remaining in his final round. With Scott and fellow Aussie Marc Leishman in the group behind, the 2013 Masters just had an Australian flavour.
It was destiny.
“I was playing with Leish, so it was even more on my mind that day,” recalls Scott. “Jason was playing in front of me and he was leading as I stood and watched him putt on 15. I just sat there and thought, Wow. Jason’s going to win, and he’s going to be the first Aussie to win here.
“It was one of the few thoughts I had. I actually never thought I was going to win until the 17th green that day, which was probably the best thing ever because it’s hard to play while thinking of winning.
“Leish was chatting to me about something going up 17 and 18. I remember getting to the (18th) green and I just had to compose myself.”
But composure had no place in this moment. Perhaps the only calmness came from Victorian native Leishman, who remained ice-cool when famously photographed fist-pumping in the background in support of his mate Scott draining that crucial birdie putt.
“It’s one of the most amazing photos there is. It sums up how good a bloke (Leishman) is,” says Scott. “Because it was just incredible. I’m a sports fan, like most of us are back home. We’re so proud of all the accomplishments of our great sportsmen. Basically, there’s nothing we haven’t done. It wasn’t long before that Cadel Evans won the (2011) Tour de France and knocked that one off the list.”
Ironically, it was another decorated Australian athlete that influenced Scott’s celebration: former tennis world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt. A gifted tennis player, Scott was frequently used by two-time grand slam winner Hewitt as a hitting partner to stay sharp during off seasons in the Bahamas, where the two Adelaide exports are neighbours. Commentating during the tennis Australian Open several years ago, the now-retired Hewitt remarked Scott was exceptional with a racquet.
“I’d spent a lot of time around Lleyton Hewitt in the year or two before (the 2013 Masters) and he’s such a proud Aussie competitor, whether it’s Davis Cup or anything over his career,” Scott says. “All those kind of influences – and the fact every week I play I’m announced as ‘from Australia’ – it’s always there. It’s always a reminder.”
So Adam Scott’s career-defining celebration was a tribute to the famous “C’mon!” catchphrase Lleyton Hewitt roared from many a grand slam baseline?
“You can give him half the credit,” laughs Scott.