14 Aug 2012
Australia's Aaron Baddeley.
So another major year is over and it’ll be 8 long months until the next one rolls around.
But as you catch your breath from Rory McIlroy’s second Major masterclass and lament another opportunity lost for Adam Scott, grab a seat and let's take a closer look at how they really played out for Australia.
The Masters – Augusta National
2012 started with much hope at Augusta National, as only a year ago that elusive Green Jacket looked like it was going to be placed on Australian shoulders for the first time. However, any thoughts of going one better, were over before it really began for the six-strong Aussie contingent.
Jason Day, a runner-up on debut, had rolled his ankle going for a run a couple of weeks prior to the year's opening major and it flared up again in practice on Tuesday.
Only intense treatment saw him make it to the first tee on Thursday but the pain was ultimately too great and he was forced to withdraw midway through the second round.
Only Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott made the cut and save for a final round flurry by Scott who shot a closing 65, his lowest score in 11 appearances saved it from being a complete write off.
But when the world watch Bubba Watson play one of the greatest recovery shots in Masters history to grab the Green Jacket, our boys had all packed up and had begun their commutes home.
US Open – The Olympic Club
Lean pickings in regular tour events from our boys didn’t give us a great deal of hope going into golf’s toughest test at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. In fact, the best story leading into the event was Anthony Summers who had taken medallist honours at a 36-hole Qualifier in Chicago.
The media in the US loved his story. A 42 year-old journeyman who had worked as a cleaner the Sydney Cricket Ground to help fund his professional career and flown over 30 hours from Australia, slept on his mates couch and despite battling jet-lag had earned the right to play in his first major. It was Cinderella stuff but once the tournament began it was quickly forgotten.
Instead the spark was provided by another making his majors debut – 29 year-old Alistair Presnell. The Victorian had survived a gruelling playoff in a qualifier in Texas against local-hero Jordan Speith just to make the field and didn’t waste his opportunity.
Presnell gave his 30-strong gallery of family & friends (including his mum who was celebrating her birthday) a major thrill as he moved to a share of 2nd midway through the 2nd round. While he didn’t hang around on the back nine he did make the cut and went on to T29, proving to those who witnessed it but more importantly to himself, that he’s got the game to compete at the highest level.
Instead it was big Queenslander John Senden who had the best chance over the weekend and a 3rd round 68 put him amongst the final few groups on Sunday.
Hopes grew high on the final day as Senden opened with 6 straight pars and a birdie to move to outright 3rd, just three shots off the lead held by Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell.
But one of the world’s great ball strikers battled a wayward driver over the final 10 holes and he settled for a T10, his best US Open finish and second in majors (T4 – 2007 PGA).
Adam Scott closed with three straight even par 70s and was left to rue an opening 76 but it was a foreshadow of what was to come.
He’d ultimately finished five shots behind Webb Simpson who snatched his maiden major victory much like Geoff Ogilvy did in 2006 at Winged Foot.
The Open - Royal Lytham & St Annes
Anticipation grew amongst us in the media that something special was brewing in Adam Scott’s game heading to Royal Lytham & St Annes.
After his solid US Open finish, the gifted Queenslander finished 3rd at the AT&T National at Congressional and he headlined an 13-strong Australian contingent for the oldest and grandest major of them all.
Predictions of Scott ending Australia’s six-year major drought were justified as even he told his inner circle on tournament eve that he felt this was his week.
From the outset he showed he was in complete control of his game and had devised a game plan to counter Lytham’s strategic layout, which boasts over 200 bunkers.
A 6 under 64 was good enough for the first round lead but he wasn’t the only Aussie who made a promising start. John Senden, Marc Leishman, Japan Tour star Brendan Jones and debutant Aaron Townsend all shot par or better.
But Scott was the focus as he continued his great play on Day 2 and only trailed American Brandt Snedeker heading into the weekend. He was joined for the final 36 holes by Greg Chalmers, Geoff Ogilvy, Senden, Aaron Baddeley and Jones which would ultimately tantalise then tease Aussie golf fans.
While the world would soon be focussing on London for the Olympics, Adam Scott drew Australia’s attention to the region a few days earlier as he moved a step closer to joining Peter Thompson, Kel Nagle, Greg Norman and Ian Baker-Finch on the Claret Jug.
His four-shot buffer heading into the final round had most of Australia staying up through the night for the promise of something special and for all but the final four holes that’s what we got.
Scott, who had turned 32 on Monday prior to the tournament looked primed for major championship glory. His ball-striking was a thing to behold as he maintained his advantage heading into the final four holes but no one could have predicted it wasn’t going to be enough.
We all watched on in horror as the major victory Australia had craved was eroding in front of our eyes and there was nothing we could do about it.
In recent years we had endured disappointing outcomes in the big four but this was the cruellest of them all and the nightmare became a harsh reality as Scott stood at the trophy ceremony watching on as his great friend Ernie Els was left to make sense of it all and hold aloft the famous Jug for the second time while we all pondered what should have been.
The only positive to come out of his unexpected collapse was the class at which Scott handled defeat. While he lost the Championship, he left Lytham a winner with the way he handled defeat.
PGA Championship – Kiawah Island Resort
It's billed as Glory’s Last Shot and judging by this line from Adam Scott in an email to me less than 48 hours after his stunning loss, “I will keep working hard and I will create more chances. I have more belief than ever that I have the game to win multiple majors” who wouldn’t believe he could claim instant redemption at Kiawah Island.
It certainly felt that way as he moved straight into contention with an opening 4 under 68. In fact it appeared Scott’s run at Lytham had inspired his countrymen as Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley shuffled in alongside him on the first page of the leader board just two shots behind Day 1 leader Carl Pettersson.
At the end of Day 2, only three (Robert Allenby, Jason Day and Brendan Jones) of the 10 Australians in the field would miss the cut, an impressive number as severe winds and rain lashed the island off South Carolina.
Heading into the weekend you could have been excused for thinking we were stuck in the naughties as Vijay Singh & Tiger Woods shared the 36-hole lead but once again Scott was our main man as he moved close to the lead on Day 3.
After holing out from the sandy area for birdie on 5, Scott went on a mini tear claiming red numbers on 7, 8 and 9 before more hideous conditions forced a postponement of play, setting up an intriguing and long final day.
As he woke bright and earlier on Sunday morning, Australians were headed to bed wondering if his time had finally come. However, it was soon apparent it was not, as the tentativeness in his putting stroke saw him squander opportunities over the final nine holes of round 3.
While he was still very much a chance beginning the last round just four behind Rory McIlroy, particularly as none of the other 54 leaders (Scott included) had closed out the previous three majors, he never really threatened as McIlroy marched to his second major title and another famous 8-shot victory.
Scott & Ogilvy T11
Senden & Chalmers T32
As Northern Ireland, a nation of only 4 million celebrates its fourth major title from the last 11 (7 in 5 years if you count Padraig Harrington) Australians are again left wondering when will it be our turn.
Yes, Scott can be well proud of his season, T8 Masters, T15 US Open, 2nd The Open & T11th PGA are great results. His tournament aggregate of -6 was the best of anyone and along with Graeme McDowell (T12, 2nd, 5th & T11) and undoubtedly the pick of those who didn’t win but win a major in 2012 but its little consolation to him and a nation desperate to celebrate another defining moment.
I for one am already counting down to The Masters next April, hoping Jim Nantz gets to use a similar line to the one he delivered in 2004 for Phil Mickelson’s major break through…. “Is it his time? YES, at long last!”
Well it's bed time here in the US and one can only dream.
Luke Elvy hosts golf for Network TEN and is now returning to Australia after six months covering Australians on the PGA Tour in the US and is a freelance columnist for GolfAustralia.org.au His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. You can follow him on Twitter: @elvisgolf.