Adam Scott's win captured a nation


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- His year-long reign as champion is about to come to an end, the green jacket that has traveled the world to be put in his own locker, never to be taken off the Augusta National grounds -- unless he wins again. Adam Scott begins his quest Thursday to add another Masters title to his résumé, with the hopes of bringing the symbol of victory on another journey.

But as the 78th Masters Tournament commences, it is quite possible to argue that no victory has been celebrated by its champion with as much joy and enthusiasm, while painstakingly trying to let as many as possible join in.

Scott's victory was the first in Masters history by an Australian, a feat reveled in by Aussies around the world. And if you want to see just how much it meant to the sport-mad country, all you need to do is look back a year ago to Augusta's 18th green.

There is the photo of Scott screaming, his right fist clenched, his left hand holding the long putter that had just stroked in a birdie putt that gave him the lead on the 72nd hole. The normally stoic Scott was amped, bellowing "C'mon Aussie!" as cheers enveloped the landscape.

But look past the noise, peer beyond the raindrops, take your eyes off Scott enjoying such a huge moment.

And there is Marc Leishman, pumping his fist.

He does so casually, quickly, signifying his satisfaction with the result he has just witnessed.

It is an amazing gesture, considering that Leishman was fighting for the same glory his countryman Scott was about to achieve. His chances had been all but swallowed up by the pond fronting the 15th green a short time earlier, but he still had a 3-foot putt of his own to make that would earn him a tie for fourth with Tiger Woods.

"It just blew me away seeing that picture," Scott said. "It's an incredible reaction by another competitor. I think that just goes to show you how much we all wanted an Aussie to win, no matter who it was. I think we all wanted it to be Greg [Norman] -- for Marc and I, in our age group, we all pulled for Greg so hard.

"And for a guy who was standing in the middle of the 15th fairway with as good a chance to win as me, to stand there on the 18th green and his dreams of winning were gone and someone else is ... it's an incredible gesture of sportsmanship. I've talked to Marc about it, and obviously no more needs to be said about what kind of guy Marc Leishman is after seeing a photo like that."

Norman, of course, is the most tormented of Aussie golfers. The Great White Shark nickname was first foisted upon him here in 1981, as he played in the Masters for the first time and was the first-round co-leader before finishing fourth.

Few outside of Australia knew Norman at the time, but he soon became a force in the game and a near-annual contender at Augusta National. From 1986 to 1992, he posted five top-six finishes, including two of the most heartbreaking runner-up finishes of his career -- the final-hole bogey to lose to Jack Nicklaus in '86, followed by Larry Mize's miraculous chip-in to beat him in a sudden-death playoff in '87.

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