CBS broadcast Ian Baker-Finch summed it up for his elated countrymen: From Down Under to the top of the world.
Adam Scott has his long-awaited first major, and Australia has its long-awaited first Masters, all on the strength of an anchored putter that for much of Masters Sunday had been nothing but dead weight for Scott.
"To make a couple of putts to win The Masters is just an amazing feeling," Scott said in Butler Cabin.
Adam Scott came painfully close to winning last year's British Open before an epic Sunday meltdown.
Most golfers would rather be the worst player ever to win a major championship than to be given the title of “best player never to win a major.”
Sure, the BPNTWAM post was most famously held by Phil Mickelson, who was a 33-year-old with 22 PGA Tour wins, 46 major appearances and 17 top-10 finishes in majors before finally breaking through at the 2004 Masters. Lefty is now a four-time major champion, and his days as BPNTWAM are a distant memory from another era.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy closed his season in style as he birdied the final five holes to come from behind and win on Sunday in Dubai and that helped him increase his lead in this week's world rankings.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - World No. 1 Rory McIlroy closed his season in style as he birdied the final five holes to come from behind and win on Sunday in Dubai and that helped him increase his lead in this week's world rankings.
McIlroy's lead atop the rankings went from 3.53 average points to 4.33.
Luke Donald shared third behind McIlroy, but still lost ground in the rankings. Donald was again followed by Tiger Woods, who will host his World Challenge starting on Thursday.
Justin Rose took second behind McIlroy and moved up three spots to No. 4 in the latest rankings. Adam Scott remained in fifth, while Lee Westwood was down two to six and Louis Oosthuizen dropped one to seventh.
Jason Dufner held steady at No. 8 and was followed by Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker and Bubba Watson. Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson exchanged spots with Poulter up to 12th.
Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney remained in the 14th to 16th positions. Peter Hanson jumped two to 17, which bumped Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson down a spot apiece to 18 and 19. Ernie Els was 20th again this week.
With this week's Children's Miracle Network Classic, another PGA Tour season draws to a close, meaning that it's time to hand out some hardware.
Player of the Year — Rory McIlroy
Rory doesn't need any accolades from us for vindication; if you believe the unconfirmed reports, he's already cashed in on his remarkable season with a $250 million deal from Nike. Judging from his 2012 season, it'll be money well spent for the Swoosh. The world's No. 1 player enjoyed stunning success on both sides of the pond, leading both the PGA and European Tours in earnings (provided he has a solid finish in this weekend's Singapore Open). His four wins were the most in a single season by any player not named Tiger Woods since 2005. He won the PGA Championship by eight strokes, then won two FedExCup playoff events (the Deutsche Bank and BMW). Throw in girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, and the guy's pretty much got it all right now. Runner-up: Brandt Snedeker
Snedeker won the FedExCup on the strength of one of the greatest displays of putting that the game has seen. On one day in September, Sneds won the Cup and the $10 million payout along with the Tour Championship and its $1.4 million winner's check. Not a bad day's work.
Round of the Year and Worst Collapse
These two unfolded concurrently, so we present them as one category. The agony and the ecstasy of golf were on full display in the final round of the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and when it was over, Ernie Els had his second Claret Jug and fourth major, and Adam Scott had first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be Greg Norman. Or Jason Dufner. On a day when the field was retreating like Napoleon from Russia, Els posted a back-9 4-under 32 for a final-round 68 in the stiffening breezes of Royal Lytham, rolling in a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole before grabbing a sandwich and watching Scott implode with bogeys on the final four holes. It was an utterly shocking turn of events on a day that seemed like a Scott coronation until the heartbreaking conclusion. Runner-up: The U.S. and European Teams on Ryder Cup Sunday
In Ryder Cup singles play, the U.S. team gagged away a 10-6 lead, losing the Cup 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 to an inspired European team that made every clutch putt down the stretch.
Shot of the Year — Bubba Watson, The Masters
After a day that included a double eagle and two holes in one, Bubba's shot in the playoff at 10 — where he curved a hook off the pine straw to within 15 feet — will be the one they'll still be talking about at the 2050 Champions Dinner. Runner-up: Louis Oosthuizen
Before Masters Sunday 2012, there had been 19,809 rounds at The Masters, but this was a first: a double eagle at No. 2. Had Oostie gone on to win, his shot would rank No. 1; as it is, he'll have to settle for second in The Masters and second on our list.
Best Performance — Rory McIlroy, PGA Championship
Twenty-one years after the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island brought the world's greatest players to their knees at the 1991 Ryder Cup in the famed "War by the Shore," Rory McIlroy turned the tables on Pete Dye's seaside creation, subduing the Ocean Course and an elite field in winning his second major championship in two years. In posting 13-under and winning by eight strokes, McIlroy reprised his eight-shot win at the 2011 U.S. Open, becoming the first player in golf history to earn his first two major wins in such dominant fashion.
Round of the Year (Non-Major Edition) — Tommy Gainey, McGladrey Classic
You might not have noticed, but Two Gloves won his first Tour event by sprinting to the finish line with a final-round 60 at Sea Island. Seven shots behind when the day began, the former insulation specialist flirted with a 59, needing only 24 putts and had seven straight 3's on his card on the back nine.
Biggest Disappointment — Tiger Woods
It's tough to call a three-win season a disappointment, but such is life for Tiger Woods, who failed to contend in a major (unless you count the British Open, where he finished T3 but was a non-factor on the final day) and seems stuck on 14 in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' career record. On the upside, he did pass Jack in the all-time wins column and now stands at 74, to Jack's 73. More alarming for Tiger is his lack of final-round mojo; his final round average at the four majors in 2012 was 73.
Young, Annoying Overachiever of the Year — Tianlang Guan
The 14-year-old from China won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to earn an invitation to the 2013 Masters. The kid's probably shorter than Adam Scott's belly putter, but he'll be at Augusta in April with Rory, Tiger, Phil and the rest.
Controversy of the Year — The Belly Putter
Speaking of belly putters, it's a debate that seems destined to reach a head soon, especially since two of this year's majors were won by players using long putters — Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (British Open). Tiger Woods has finally weighed in, telling the R&A that the putter should be equal or shorter than the shortest club in the bag. But if they were such an advantage, wouldn't everybody be using them? Whatever the case, we need a definitive word from golf's governing bodies, which we'll probably get in 2013.
- by Rob Doster
Follow me on Twitter @AthlonDoster
It's Glory's Last Shot for 2012, and for the losers, it will be a long wait for Augusta 2013. Here's a rundown of players who could be kissing the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon during the 2012 PGA Championship, and a few who won't.
Contender: Dustin Johnson
Playing in his home state of South Carolina, Johnson could finally harness that otherworldly talent and win his first major. The longer and tougher the course, the better his chances, and Kiawah fits the bill. He has five top-10 finishes in majors in the last four years, including two top 10s at the British Open. The links-style layout of the Ocean Course will make Johnson feel right at home.
Best Career Finish, PGA: T5 Last Year: Cut
2 of 9
Contender: Rory McIlroy
Rory gives himself a grade of B for his season thus far. A win at the Ocean Course would bump up that GPA. It's been a frustrating season for McIlroy, but he has two third-place finishes at the PGA in the last three years. His top-5 finish at the WGC-Bridgestone and his confident demeanor point to a strong showing this week.
Best Career PGA Finish: T3 Last Year: T64
3 of 9
Contender: Keegan Bradley
The defending champion backed into the title last year thanks to Jason Dufner's collapse, but he might not need such cooperation this time. Bradley has a major, a WGC and a Rookie of the Year award in the last 365 days. He could be the first player to defend a major title successfully since Tiger Woods won the PGA in 2006-07.
Best Career PGA Finish: 1 Last Year: 1
4 of 9
Contender: Tiger Woods
Tiger's in the midst of the least celebrated three-win season in history, but a PGA Championship win could turn a solid season into a career renaissance. Tiger's major drought now extends to a once-unimaginable 17 majors, and Nicklaus' total of 18 is starting to look more remote. All that does, though, is make Woods hungrier than he's been in a long time.
Best Career PGA Finish: 1 (4 times) Last Year: Cut
5 of 9
Contender: Matt Kuchar
Kooch comes straight from central casting for PGA contenders: a consistent ballstriker looking for his major breakthrough. He's knocked on the door twice this season with top 10s at The Masters and British Open, and his win at The Players proves he can outlast an elite field.
Best Career PGA Finish: T10 Last Year: T19
6 of 9
Pretender: Lee Westwood
The world's No. 3 player has seen the bottom drop out of a once-promising season thanks to sloppy play around the green, and the PGA is historically his worst major. Not a favorable combination.
Best Career PGA Finish: T3 Last Year: T8
7 of 9
Pretender: Phil Mickelson
Lefty hasn't posted a top 10 since May, and he's lost it off the tee (168th in driving accuracy). Normally for Mickelson, how he's playing leading into a major is not a reliable indicator, but it's hard to overlook his struggles this season.
Best Career PGA Finish: 1 Last Year: T19
8 of 9
Pretender: Adam Scott
Scott's mental scars following his epic British Open collapse are bound to run deep. His attempt to jump back on the horse at the Bridgestone resulted in some lackluster play. His confidence with the belly has to be a little shaken right now.
So did Ernie Els win it? Or did Adam Scott lose it? Both. The agony and the ecstasy of golf were on full display at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and when it was over, Els had his second Claret Jug and fourth major, and Scott had first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be Greg Norman. Or Jason Dufner.