Scott treads warily in the footsteps of Norman
Sunday 10 April 2011
No Australian has ever won the Masters. The names of the six runners-up are a painful reminder of 75 years of Aussie hurt among the Augusta pines. Please bow your heads and shed a tear for: Jim Ferrier (1950), Bruce Crampton (1972), Jack Newton (1980) and poor old Greg Norman (1986, '87 and '96).
But there is hope again for old green and gold. Adam Scott is primed at seven under par to putt the Aussie jinx to rest. Or, whisper it, and kiss the lucky rabbit's foot, add to its legend.
He signed for a five-under-par 67 that included only 26 putts in the third round here yesterday. But here's another jinx – and this one stretches back in time. Scott is wielding a broomhandle putter that, if it has a brush attached to its base, would be ideal for sweeping his garden path. Many of golf's globetrotting circus of followers want to see them banned. Scott will also know that no one has ever won a major leaning on the long putter like an old man waiting at a bus stop.
It is 15 years since Nick Faldo put his arm around a crestfallen Norman on the 18th green and whispered: "I dunno what to say, mate. Don't let the bastards get you down." Scott knows all about who Faldo was calling the "B" word. It was the "M" word, the media. "There were almost tears at home that day," he said. "Everyone was devastated. Greg was my hero. He was a demi-god. He was 'It' when I was growing up," Scott said. He was supposed to be the new Norman. It was an impossible task.
However, Scott then quickly raced to No 3 in the world and was heralded as the new Tiger with his identikit Woods swing. But disaster struck. He split from his long-time girlfriend in 2008, broke his hand in a car door, smashed his knee surfing and developed ulcers on his tonsils – and his game fell to pieces.
He hasn't had a top 10 at the Masters since his debut here in 2002 or in any major since 2006. But it hasn't been all bad times for the 30-year-old. He has frolicked with actress Kate Hudson and then dated tennis star Ana Ivanovic.
"To win here is probably indescribable. It's something we haven't accomplished in Australian sport," Scott said. "We are a strong sporting nation and we push our athletes hard. One day it's going to happen.
"But you know, I don't think the guys carry a burden. I think no one here is thinking there's a voodoo on us from Australia," he said laughing. "No one's got over the line yet. But it's going to happen."
If Scott is to be the chosen one, he is going to have to break the broomhandle voodoo, too. Except of course he would have us believe he's not thinking about that either. It would be just Scott's bad luck to be pipped at the post by Queensland's 23-year-old Jason Day or Geoff Ogilvy, who has stuck around the leaderboard all week. Then Scott really would be the new Norman.
But it is still not too late for Scott to fulfil his promise and to achieve something that eluded his hero Norman, to pull on that much-coveted Green Jacket this afternoon. "I still certainly dream about it," Scott said. "It's been a fair few years."
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