Closers at The Masters

Closers at The Masters:

adam scott 2

The brilliance of Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, on the last set of holes, and into the playoff, was as exhilarating, and as near perfection, as any of the historic finishes at The Masters .

The champion, Adam Scott, was known best for his crushing defeat at The British in 2012, but on this day he was a closer, he seized the moment, hit some remarkable shots and ran in some emotion- packed putts to prevail. His playoff partner, Angel Cabrera, was truly gallant, reminiscent of his dual with Kenny Perry in 2009, when he claimed the green jacket for himself.

And, how about the champion running in the putts on 18 and 10,  and showing the doubting pundits that he could find his footing on the most uneven of terrains. That he was more than a fashion model! More than a too-cool jet setter! More than the most eligible!  He was a closer.

As a reminder, Closers love the action when everything is on the line. When it’s most challenging. Like standing on the 11th tee at Augusta while in contention.

Scott McCarron shares some up-close observations gleaned from his week-long on course commentary, following leading groups for Direct TV.  In addition to the leaders on Sunday, among his favorite groups, was the pairing of Ben Crenshaw, Mateo Manaserra, the young, brilliant Italian, and Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese wonder.

McCarron marveled at the quiet dignity with which Tianlang, responded to his slow play penalty.  And that he displayed a game that will stand the test of time.

On Sunday, he was amazed by the flow of conversation between Cabrera and his cadangel die (son) and that with the ball. Cabrera seemed to talk into his address position and to the ball throughout its flight. Scott is not bilingual, but the messages Cabrera sent were eloquently clear. The rhythm and tempo of his talk were a measure of the rhythm and tempo of his swing, all day.

Pre-shot routines were unmistakably similar. It was steady as you go until situations changed and pressure surfaced with – the fear of failure – I want this too much – how do I stand. As Scott observed, when routines sped up or slowed down, shots missed their mark. As well as he’s done in many big tournaments, Brandt Snedeker, whose play is quick to begin with, played even faster and faltered early in the back nine.
Jason Day stayed in the hunt until he faltered late at 16 and 17, although he demonstrated as clearly with a string of great shots, the important role of visualization. He stood behind the ball with eyes closed, seeing the ball flight in his imagination, and retaining that image, into his address position, and throughout his swing. That”s target centered golf at its best.
During the week, and especially on the weekend, Scott was impressed by the resiliency of  the players as they used post shot routines to review and refocus after missed shots. There were dramatic moments, when frustration appeared, as shots just didn’t quite clear the water, just missed an exacting landing spot on a green, lipped out, or took an unsavory bounce. These guys just don’t let those negative emotions linger, Scott said. You can see them get back into the present and re-focused within a few quick strides.

Tiger Woods: Yea or Nay

No tournament report is complete without a Tiger Woods scenario. He made his move late Friday and early Saturday morning when a ruling by Fred Ridley, Master’s rules chairman, allowed him to play on. “Under the rules of golf, I can play, he said.” He was technically correct and that’s all he was.” (Sports Illustrated, Aussie Rules, Michael Bamberger, 4/22/13)
Hitting the pin and bouncing back into the water on #15, was very unfortunate, the subsequent events were as well. None of us know all the behind the scenes decision-making that took place. Tiger had a grand opportunity, though, to bow out with dignity, but instead decided to play on under a technically correct ruling (rule 33-7), made some waves late in the round, Sunday, captured his usual share of TV time, finished tied for 4th and disappeared before the real drama unfolded.

Competition the way it’s meant to be. adam scott 1

Back to the drama of the playoff and Adam Scott’s very popular win. A Continent relieved! And then, it was drinking-in the potent blend of intense competition and respect brewed by Scott and Cabrera during their playoff.  No holds barred there! Total engagement in each shot. Arms locked around each other. Closers both! That’s as good as it gets!

1 Response

  1. Dan Dougherty says:

    What was most striking to me on a memorable day was the ingenuous sportsmanship of both Scott and Cabrera. It was so refreshing to see absolutely none of the “it’s all about me” strutting and puffing that some other top players have exhibited in the past. The yell that Scott let out on 18 of “Cmon Aussie!” was for his homeland and his friends, not his own glory. And Cabrera giving him a thumbs up after a good shot was like two heavyweights trading shots in the final round. They were both enjoying the incredible pressure of the competition, and it was fun to see.
    And another final contrast to some past chapmpions was, when Scott sunk the winner on 10, he gave a quick high five to his caddie but immediately went over to congratulate his game competitor, Cabrera. No self-absorbed celebratory ritual, just a heart felt acknowledgment of a job well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *