Masters 2014: Adam Scott projects the Augusta aura to light up life without Tiger Woods

The reigning champion's blue-eyed stare and Hollywood smile draws the gaze of all, and his game is at a fine peak

augusta national

It was shortly after 10 when the Masters champion strode across what many suspect might be the post-Tiger vista. The prettiest garden in all of golf looked as arresting as ever, this vast Georgia pageant falling away towards Amen Corner, concealed in the pines below.

"It's Adam Scott," went the whisper, echoing about the well-upholstered swathe of humanity gathered around the clubhouse green as the unmistakable tall, athletic figure passed towards the 10th tee, preceded by his caddie Steve Williams operating as a battering ram to part the throng.

It is one of the great walks in golf, and at the start of the week the concern surrounded who might fill it. The storm that blew through Augusta on Monday forcing the gates to shut somehow symbolised the absence of Tiger Woods, spreading a sense of despondency. Emptiness claimed the site. The talk was less about who might win but on how the tournament would respond to the absence of the game's iconic figure.

Arnold Palmer was the last to address the issue late on Tuesday night. A raised arm greeted the cheers as he made his way from the clubhouse to the media complex. His attendance confers upon Augusta the atmosphere of a royal visit – not for nothing is he addressed as "the king".

Click here to see Justin Rose's key hole guide

Palmer was the Woods of a bygone era, raising the visibility and profile of golf in Fifties and Sixties America. But his presence also marks the inexorable passing of time. The hands that once had magic in them appeared gnarled as they reached out for a rail that would give him balance. The clock takes them all down in the end.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Palmer's seventh and final major victory here in 1964. He played some of his best golf thereafter, winning 17 PGA titles. The failure to meet the psychological demands that increased with each passing year without a major cost him, he claimed. He wondered whether Woods might not be in the grip of the same difficulty.

That Woods should dominate the agenda is understandable but fears about the game's well-being without him proved unfounded the moment Scott appeared straight from central casting. The blue-eyed stare and Hollywood smile drew the gaze of all. At 33 he will never look sharper. His game, too, is at a fine peak.

Only the statistical weight behind the infrequency of champions returning to retain the Green Jacket – just three have pulled that off in 80 years, Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Sir Nick Faldo – puts Scott behind Rory McIlroy in most betting. Not that he views his status as champion as a bar to succeeding.

"I don't know if there are answers to why only a couple of guys have managed to repeat their performance. It's just one of those things. I certainly don't think any of the responsibilities are so draining that it's going to cost you having a good week out on the golf course. It's just one of those things; in time, I'm sure more and more guys will, but at the moment, it's only a couple, but I'd like to add my name to that list this week," he said.

There would be one, final scoping of drying greens on the back nine before the par-three carnival began in the afternoon. "It's Adam Scott, Adam Scott, Adam Scott," and off he went to the soundtrack of his own name towards the sacred heart of Augusta National. European Tour veteran Thomas Bjorn and last week's winner in Houston, Matt Jones, accompanied him down the 10th fairway. Not that many looking on could name either.

If any tournament is equipped to survive the loss of Woods it is this, the first major of the year, bringing with it a sense of wonder and renewal. It is here that Woods crossed the threshold into the major firmament, but it was the Masters that made him, not the reverse, just as it recast Scott as a player of real substance as well as good-looking jock.

The vision created by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts has acquired a mystique even they could not have imagined. At birth it struggled to survive, the owners passing the begging bowl around the business community to avoid closure. Today it is the game's most powerful economic driver, sufficiently wealthy to create its own reality, impervious to the financial fundamentals at play elsewhere.

The sheer scale of the operation sets it apart. It is not what golf was meant to be but it is what the game has come to represent, at least in the United States, the ultimate expression of the good life. And through this verdant prism is the glorification of Masters perfection projected and sold. The game has bought into it wholesale, evidenced by the reverence and awe that erupt from the players on receipt of an invitation.

On Sunday one of them will emerge the hero, welcomed into the Masters fold for all eternity. McIlroy poked his head above the parapet to speak about the desirability of a dominant figure to fill the gap temporarily left by Woods, and hoped it might be him. He certainly has the game and, with two majors already banked, has all the requirements at 24 to govern.

Others, such as Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, are hoping for a late shaft of sunlight to bless careers stunted by the could-have, should-have blight. This place has them all believing in dreams.

Masters details: Tee-off times, weather and TV

Selected tee-off times for Thursday and Friday (all times BST; US unless stated):

12.45pm/3.52pm S Cink, T Clark (SA)

2.13pm/5.31pm A Cabrera (Arg), G Woodland, I Poulter (Eng)

2.35pm/5.53pm G McDowell (NI), R Fowler, J Walker

2.57pm/6.04pm Z Johnson, K Choi (S Kor), S Striker

3.30pm/6.37pm C Schwartzel (SA), J Furyk, T Olesen (Den)

3.41pm/6.48pm A Scott (Aus), J Dufner, M Fitzpatrick (Eng)

3.52pm/6.59pm J Spieth, P Reed, R McIlroy (NI)

4.36pm/1.18pm J Olazabal (Sp), L Glover, G Porteous (Eng)

4.47pm/1.29pm N Watney, S Gallacher (Sco), D Clarke (NI)

5.09pm/1.40pm V Singh (Fij), T Bjorn (Den), R Moore

6.04pm/2.35pm J Day (Aus), D Johnson, H Stenson (Swe)

6.15pm/2.57pm B Watson, L Donald (Eng), S Garcia (Sp)

6.37pm/3.19pm K Bradley, V Dubuisson (Fr), P Hanson (Swe)

6.48pm/3.30pm P Mickelson, E Els (SA), J Rose (Eng)

6.59pm/3.41pm H English, L Westwood (Eng), R Henley

Weather Mainly warm and sunny. Maximum temperature: 23C

Television Sky Sports 4, 7pm-12.30am

Leading odds 11-1 McIlroy: 12-1 Scott; 14-1 Mickleson; 16-1 Day; 20-1 Garcia; 22-1 D Johnson, Kuchar; 25-1 Watson; 28-1 Z Johnson

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower