Late win rush puts more Aussies in Masters hunt
AUGUSTA - Agence France-Presse
Masters champion Adam Scott, center, of Australia, is announced at a trophy presentation during the "Drive, Chip and Putt" contest. AP PhotoA year after Adam Scott forever ended any notion of an Australian jinx at the Masters, a host of Aussie golfers have made a late charge to Augusta National.
Four Aussies have won US PGA events in the past two months, including Matt Jones taking a dramatic playoff win Sunday at Houston to qualify for his first Masters at the last possible moment.
"There are a lot of good golfers everywhere in the world and just it's been lucky enough to be Australia's turn in the last six months or whatever," Jones said Monday.
"Since Adam won, Australia has been pretty abuzz with golf. What he did for the Australian golf community is pretty great. I think a lot of the Australian golfers fed off that. Hopefully there is more to come."
Scott's playoff victory over Angel Cabrera last year was the first green jacket after a history of near-misses for Greg Norman and even a couple of oh-so-close efforts from Scott and Jason Day, whose World Golf Championships Match Play triumph in February kicked off the Aussie run of success.
"It's surprising to see Australia kicking it up and it just shows that Australian golf is in a good spot now," Day said.
"Going back last year after Scotty won, it was very inspiring for I think a lot of golfers on tour to kick their game up another level."
Aussie Stephen Bowditch won the Texas Open just eight days ago to earn his way to Augusta National this week. And just two weeks earlier, countryman John Senden won at Tampa to book his trip to the Masters.
Scott's success has opened floodgates of confidence in Aussies, who say if he can do it then so can they.
"A lot of the Australians are doing that exact same thing and having that exact same mental approach to the tournaments that they are playing recently," Day said.
"It's not surprising to see Steve play well in a windy kind of place. Everyone saw how good his short game was. And then Matt Jones, exactly the same thing, played great. I'm definitely excited to see how the guys go this week."
Does that mean after no Australian winner in 76 Masters events, there might be two in a row?
"I think it sets up well for an Australian to play well," Day said. "I know Scotty has said Augusta does set up well for an Australian. Those guys should have a good shot at competing this week." Jones was still buzzing, having taken a boost from Bowditch's win to claim one of his own.
"This is amazing," Jones said. "Waking up as kids and watching this, you've always dreamed of coming here. Watching Greg play, it was amazing.
"I saw Bowdo win and I thought, 'Why couldn't that be me the week of Houston?' which luckily enough it was. It's just good to see your countrymen do it and it gives you hope that you can do it."
Jones, who will practice alongside Scott on the eve of the first round, recalled his joy at seeing Scott win a year ago on television from home.
"It was amazing," Jones said. "And then the way he celebrated, I'm sure it gave all Australians goosebumps and gives them to me now just thinking about it."
Scott, Day, Bowditch, Jones and Senden are joined by Marc Leishman and amateur Oliver Gross to form an Aussie pack seeking to keep the title Down Under.
"We are all hanging around each other which is good," Day said. "It is the Masters. It's the biggest tournament of the year, so we all kind of stick together and we'll see each other in the locker room, on the range and we'll say hello to each other.
"We have to go out there and compete against each other so I need to do the work to try and beat those guys and the rest of the field is tough to beat as well.
"It's interesting. I think there will be, just like it has in the last few years, some Aussies up there. It's exciting stuff for Australian golf."