Scott and Day lead Aussie Charge at Masters
02 Apr 2012 - 22:16:55
Both Adam Scott and Jason Day are convinced that despite years of heartbreak, the day will dawn when an Australian will win the Masters.
The two men came agonizingly close last year when they finished tied for second place, two shots behind upset winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
Scott even led by one shot with two holes to go and parred the tough 17th and 18th only to have the green jacket that goes to the winners of the Masters snatched away from him by Schwartzel, who made history by birdieing the final four holes.
The 31-year-old from Adelaide insists that he has no regrets over the way he played the closing stretch 12 months ago despite the outcome.
"I think it was the first time late on a Sunday that I had a chance. I walked to the 17th tee with a one shot lead and parred the last two holes, which I thought was pretty good on those holes. And normally, that is pretty good," he said.
"But what happened last year was extraordinary by Charl. I'm not disappointed with anything I did that day.
"I think under the pressure, I played some really good golf coming in, and that's what I learned about myself and where my game is at and where my head is at as a player."
Still, the way the tournament finished last year was another agonising twist in the long history of Australian near misses at Augusta National.
Prior to Scott and Day, three other Australians had to settle for runner-up finishes.
The others were Bruce Crampton in 1972, Jack Newton in 1980 and Greg Norman three times, in 1986 to Jack Nicklaus' epic win at age 46, to a Larry Mize chip-shot in a 1987 playoff and to a last-day collapse in 1996 that gave Nick Faldo a third Masters crown.
Scott says that although he feels no extra burden on his shoulders, he knows what it would mean to all Australian sports fans for either himself or Day to shatter the jinx this week.
"It's one of those sporting hurdles that no Australian has gotten over, and it may be one of the last ones for the sports that we play in our country, after Cadel Evans winning Tour de France last year," he said.
"Now the Masters has really gone beyond just golfers in Australia, too. I think, thanks to Greg Norman and the years he played and the icon he is in Australia, he took golf beyond just the golfers and made it recognized by the whole Australian public.
"It's going to happen, for sure. We have a lot of great players and we always have and it has just not happened. I think it's just coincidence that it has not happened. One year someone is going to get across the line."
Echoing his comments, Day, who enjoyed a breakthrough season last year when he also finished second in the US Open and broke into the world top 10, said that the Masters had become akin to a Holy Grail for many Australians.
"I would love to win this tournament one day. I do believe that an Australian will win it soon," the 24-year-old Queenslander said.
"In Australian sports, we have conquered a lot of different sporting events around the world. This is probably one of the last few that we would like to get to.
But I would be very, very happy if one of the Australians this week won. Obviously I think that will kind of ease the pressure off our shoulders, and we can just go and play instead of worrying about being the first person to win."
Australians other than Scott and Day competing this week are Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy, John Senden and amateur debutante Bryden MacPherson