Let’s give some credit to Adam Scott for playing some great golf and winning The Masters.
Clearly, Scott would prefer not to give himself any credit. He doled out so much credit to others after his win that you had to wonder who that was swinging his clubs at Augusta.
Humility is a wonderful quality, one usually overlooked by today’s myriad of egocentric athletes. Perhaps they’ve tired of all the self-promotion, and have begun policing themselves, pushing the pendulum back in the other direction.
Louisville just won the NCAA men’s basketball championship. What was the one word that stayed on the Cardinals’ whiteboard all season? Humility. The lack of which, according to coach Rick Pitino, would be the only thing that could keep The Ville from the title.
That’s the same Rick Pitino who once had an ego the size of Massachusetts.
We’ve witnessed the success of the Miami Heat once they figured out how to fit all those egos onto one basketball court.
Golf, an individual sport, remains something slightly different. You can’t compete successfully without having a big belief in yourself. At the same time, golf can be the most humbling sport ever devised.
Just last summer, Scott himself had a four shot lead with only four holes left in the British Open. He managed to bogey all four, and lost to Ernie Els.
Scott didn’t stumble down the stretch on Sunday at Augusta National. He got his only bogey out of the way on the first hole, then offset that with a birdie at No. 3. The rest were all pars, except for birdies on the two backside par fives.
Until Scott sank a crucial birdie putt on the final hole.
“That’s the putt you’ve seen guys hole,” Scott noted at his official post-Masters press conference. “O’Meara is the one that comes to mind.
You’ve seen the read. You know it goes a little bit right-to-left. I just told myself to go with instinct. Just put it out there and hit it.”
When the putt dropped, Scott erupted into his own “Come on, Aussie!” exultation. But he was drowned out by the roar of the patrons. “Incredible support from everyone in the crowd.” he said.
“I really felt they were on my side a little bit in regulation, coming down the last couple of holes,” Scott said. “They wanted me to do something, and that’s a great feeling.”
The putt gave Scott in a one-stroke lead, but Angel Cabrera rose to the occasion. As he often does in major championships, rising from obscurity to star on golf’s biggest stages. He knocked his approach to 18 dead still beside the cup, and the playoff was on.
After both players pared the 18th again — with Cabrera narrowly missing a chip-in to win — they headed to No. 10 for the second playoff. Cabrera reached the middle of the green in two, and Scott then dropped his second shot inside Cabrera’s.
As they walked up the 10th fairway, Cabrera turned to Scott and gave him the thumbs-up sign. “Angel is a great man,” said Scott. “I’ve gotten to know him a fair bit through President’s Cups. I played with him a couple of times in them, and have spent some time with him.
After Cabrera left his birdie putt at the edge of the cup, Scott tried to read his own putt.
“I could hardly see the green in the darkness,” Scott said. “I was struggling to read it, so I gave Steve a call over.”
That would be Steve Williams, his caddie.
“I said, ‘Do you think it’s just more than a cup?’ Scott said, ‘It’s at least two cups.
“It’s going to break more than you think.’
“I said, ‘I’m good with that.’ Scott added. “He was my eyes on that putt.
“I started on line and it managed to hang in and go in the left half. An amazing feeling.”
Then Australia’s first Masters champion got to embrace his dad behind the 10th green.
“You know, he was the biggest influence on me,” Scott recalled. “He was a great role model for me as a kid, as I think back on it, and the way he balanced everything for me so that I just kind of made my own way as a golfer.
“Really, he did an incredible job of just letting me be who I am and letting my game develop and not standing in my way at times, and pushing me when I needed to be pushed. He’s an amazing man.”
Adam Scott’s pretty amazing himself. But you’d never hear him say so.
Denton Ashway is a contributing columnist for The Times. His column appears on Thursdays.