Nine months after blowing a four-shot lead in the Open, Adam Scott tonight gained sweet redemption with a dramatic Masters triumph at a rain-soaked Augusta.
Scott, who bogeyed the last four holes at Royal Lytham and lost by one to Ernie Els, birdied the second hole of a sudden-death play-off after he and 2009 champion Angel Cabrera had finished tied on nine under par.
The 32-year-old thought he had claimed his first major title, and become the first Australian to win a Green Jacket, when he birdied the 18th in regulation, roaring “Come on Aussie” after holing from 25ft.
But Cabrera, watching from the fairway, promptly fired his approach to three feet for a birdie of his own to force extra holes.
The pair both made par when they returned to the 18th – Cabrera almost chipping in to win it – and Scott then birdied the 10th from 15ft to seal a memorable win.
Australian Jason Day had led by two with three to play but bogeyed the 16th and 17th to finish seven under, with Tiger Woods, penalised two shots for an incorrect drop in Friday’s second round, two further back after a closing 70 alongside another Australian, Marc Leishman.
Scott's win means all four majors have now been won by players using anchored putters, which the game's governing bodies propose to ban from 2016.
“I don’t know how that happens,” Scott said of the dramatic finale. “It seems a long way away from last July when I was trying to win another major.
“It fell my way today, there was some luck there. It was incredible.”
The final round was played in intermittent rain from overcast skies, but got off to a blistering start as two-time winner Bernhard Langer, looking to become golf’s oldest major winner, birdied the first three holes.
The 55-year-old’s challenge for a third Masters title, 20 years after his second, faded quickly with dropped shots at the sixth and seventh and he eventually signed for a 76, but by then Day had started birdie-eagle to take the lead.
Day holed from 30 feet on the first and then saw his greenside bunker shot on the par-five second disappear into the cup as well, but sole possession of the lead did not last long.
Brandt Snedeker, playing in the final group with Cabrera, also birdied the first, while Cabrera soon made it a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard with a two-putt birdie on the second.
Snedeker, who shared the lead early in the final round in 2008 before fading to a closing 77 to finish third, saw his challenge start to evaporate with bogeys on the fourth and fifth and although he did birdie the eighth, dropped shots on the 10th, 11th and 14th ended his chances.
Day was not immune to the pressure though, dropping a shot at the sixth and another at the ninth. After punching out of the trees to just short of the treacherous green, his delicate chip failed to get over a steep slope and rolled back to his feet.
At that point he was three behind Cabrera after the Argentinian birdied the seventh, but Cabrera bogeyed the 10th after driving into the trees and then found water at the par-five 13th for another bogey.
A stunning bunker shot on the same hole set up Day’s first birdie since the opening hole, which he followed with another from seven feet on the next, and when he made it three in succession on 15 – hitting the green in two and leaving his eagle putt just two feet short – Day was two in front.
Scott had almost been overlooked after a bogey at the first and birdie at the third were followed by nine pars in succession, but then came a massive stroke of luck on the 13th.
His approach to the par five span back towards the water in front of the green but, aided by the rain, stopped on the downslope in a manner reminiscent to what happened to Fred Couples on the 12th on his way to victory in 1992.
From there he chipped and putted for birdie and then matched Day’s two-putt birdie on the 15th, with Cabrera’s birdie on the 16th briefly making it a three-way tie.
However, Day’s chances then disappeared with bogeys on the 16th – where he three-putted from over the back of the green – and 17th where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker, setting the stage for the drama to come.