Adam Scott's British Open failure fuels Masters win


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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- After his improbable collapse at the 2012 British Open, when he bogeyed the final four holes to hand the claret jug to Ernie Els, Adam Scott received a consoling but inspiring text message from a player who recovered quickly from a similar implosion in a major tournament.

Rory McIlroy, who endured one of the worst collapses in Masters history when he blew a four-shot lead on the back nine in 2011, texted Scott and assured him that what happened in the British Open didn't have to mean the end of anything.

McIlroy was living proof. Just two months after what happened to him at the Augusta National Golf Club, he bounced back in impressive fashion to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club by eight shots for his first major championship.

Scott apparently heeded the message.

In just his second major since he stumbled to the finish at Royal Lytham, Scott bounced back from his British Open disappointment to fashion one of the great endings in Masters history.

Even though he was momentarily upstaged at the 72nd hole by Angel Cabrera, Scott won his first major title and became the first Australian to win the Masters with a 12-foot birdie on the second playoff hole -- an exalting moment that brought him full cycle from the disappointment of his British Open failure.

"Everything I said after the Open is how I felt, and I meant it," said Scott, who won $1,440,000 for his Masters victory. "It did give me more belief that I could win a major. It proved to me, in fact, that I could. "

Curiously, Cabrera played a part in each situation at the Masters.

He was McIlroy's playing partner in the final group in 2011 and witnessed firsthand as the young star from Northern Ireland began to unravel on the 10th hole at Augusta National.

And, on Sunday, playing in the final group with Brandt Snedeker, Cabrera was watching from the middle of the 18th fairway when Scott made a bending 25-foot birdie that, at the time, appeared to be the winning putt.

"That's the putt you've seen guys hole," Scott said. "[Mark] O'Meara [in 1998] is the one that comes to mind. I just told myself to go with instinct; just put it out there and hit it. Show everyone how much you want it. This is the one."

It was ... for about three minutes.

Scott's celebration was rendered premature when Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion, stuffed a 7-iron from 163 yards to 2 feet to steal his thunder and force a playoff.

Cabrera and Scott were teammates and playing partner in the Presidents Cup, and their friendship was on display in the playoff.

When Scott hit his 6-iron approach to 12 feet on the second playoff hole, bettering the shot Cabrera hit to 16 feet moments earlier, the Argentine turned to Scott and gave him a thumbs-up.

After Scott sank the winning putt, he got a warm embrace and slaps on the back from Cabrera.

"He said a great thing to me in 2009 at the Presidents Cup before we all left, and unfortunately we lost that event," Scott said "I was on a captain's pick there and my form was struggling, but he pulled me aside and he said, 'You're a great, great player.' It was something I didn't forget and really nice of him. It's an incredible camaraderie between all of us out here, and he's a great guy. And that was a nice gesture down 10."

Scott's victory will have one downside: It will further fuel the debate about the use of "anchoring" the long putter -- an issue that has divided the stance of the United States Golf Association and the PGA Tour. Scott is the fourth winner in the past six majors to use the long putter.

"I don't know that this is going to impact any decisions at all," Scott said. "It was inevitable that big tournaments would be won with this equipment because, you know, these are the best players in the world and they practice thousands of hours. They are going to get good with whatever they are using."

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Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.


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