SYDNEY (AFP) –
Sports-mad Australia on Monday celebrated Adam Scott’s breakthrough triumph in the Masters, claiming it as an historic moment for the nation and Greg Norman said there were more to come.
Scott, 32, beat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera at the second playoff hole to become the first Australian to win the Masters at Georgia’s Augusta National.
Norman, who endured Masters heartbreak with three runner-up finishes at Augusta in the 1980-90s and whose influence was hailed by Scott after his triumph, led the tributes and said his victory will help him win more majors.
“I have been a huge believer in Adam and I am so proud of him, as is the rest of Australia,” Norman said on his Facebook page.
“Adam is a great player and I’m confident this victory will catapult him to win more majors. It will not surprise me if he wins more major championships than any other Australian golfer in history.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said “by any measure it is an historical day for Australian sport”.
“Adam Scott’s triumph at Augusta immediately joins the ranks of the truly great Australian sporting moments,” she said in a statement.
Nine months after making bogeys on the last four holes to squander a British Open lead at Royal Lytham and two years after sharing second at the Masters, Scott won his first major title in commanding fashion.
Australians gathered around television sets across the country urging on Scott who ended a jinx that saw Australians eight times finish runner-up at the Masters.
Sports Minister Kate Lundy called it “fantastic news for not only Adam, but all those who played on Augusta before him and for all those young Australians who will follow in his path”.
“With golf now an Olympic sport for the 2016 Rio Games, today’s victory will no doubt help to inspire the next generation of Australian golfers,” she said.
Geoff Ogilvy, the last Australian to win a major at the 2006 US Open, simply tweeted: “Yes!!! I reckon it’s time for a beer.”
Steve Elkington, who was the Australian winner of the 1995 US PGA Championship was also ecstatic, tweeting: “Waltzing Matilda … Waltzing Matilda ..you’ll go a Waltzing Matilda with me…”
Leading golf journalist Martin Blake called Scott’s winning putt one of the standout moments in Australian sport.
“Adam Scott goes into the pantheon of Australian sporting greats, right up with (Rod) Laver, (Dawn) Fraser, (Donald) Bradman. (Masters) Hoodoo broken,” he tweeted.
Australian golfing administrators were thrilled that their leading player will now enjoy overdue recognition on the world sporting stage.
“Throughout his career Adam has been an incredible ambassador for Australian golf and he continues to come home and support the PGA Tour of Australasia year after year,” PGA of Australia chief Brian Thorburn said.
“For years he’s carried the weight of expectation and answered countless questions about when his time would come. Finally, it’s here, and I congratulate him on behalf of the entire golf community.”
Australians had won all the other majors, but Augusta continued to elude the nation’s golfers until Scott’s breakthrough and figures from other sports hailed his achievement.
Formula One driver Mark Webber said years of hard work had paid off for his countryman.
“Years and years of individual hard work for a amazing moment like that. Never a straight road on the world stage,” he tweeted, while former world snooker champion Neil Robertson also offered congratulations.
Australian football captain Lucas Neill added: “Adam Scott has given us a great Aussie sporting moment. Congratulations, you are a legend!”