For defending Masters champ Adam Scott, golf is a family affair
It fell with a steady rhythm. Softly, warmly, invigoratingly.
“Heaven’s tears,” it has been called, but on this day the rain was not punishing, nor did it bring a sense of melancholy; rather, it reminded of what St. Hildegard once suggested, that “when the rainfall is moderate and not excessive, the earth brings forth new life.” As if on cue, it came down as Adam Scott stood tall, donned the cherished green jacket and spread his arms.
There was something regal to the pose. But was Scott accepting the glory of the moment for himself or for his countrymen? Or was the Australian attempting to put his appreciative embrace on the warm emotions that could be felt rushing his way?
Exhilarating as it was, the moment could have been read either way. As flashbulbs popped and twilight enveloped the triumphant scene behind the Augusta National clubhouse, the 2013 Masters came to a surreal ending with arguably the most heartfelt joy for a first-time winner since 2004, when Phil Mickelson ended his drought in the majors.
At 32 and in his 48th start in a major championship, Scott finally had prevailed – and in stunning fashion, too: A birdie at the 72nd hole to assure his spot in a playoff, then a birdie on the second extra hole to unleash euphoria.
His. His caddie’s. His country’s.
Whether the massive exhale that could be felt was Scott exorcising demons from the previous summer’s Open Championship or Australia’s relief at having finally won a Masters – 17 years after Greg Norman’s gut-wrenching collapse, 26 Aprils from the pain Larry Mize had inflicted upon the Aussie golf world – it signaled ready, set, go for a celebration that could redefine celebrations.
Scott, it turns out, had a plan for a moment such as this. He had done something no one else had done? He would act like he always acted.
Quietly. Humbly. Efficiently.
“Nothing big at all,” Scott said. “Pretty mellow,” and by 3 a.m. the small gathering of revelers inside his rented home had been ushered out the door. It was all so understated, all so unpretentious, all so vintage Adam Scott.
“Simplicity,” said Justin Cohen, Scott’s manager, “is a good way to describe Adam’s world.”
Only minutes after Scott’s golf ball disappeared into the cup at the 10th hole to seal his playoff victory over Angel Cabrera, Phil Scott seemingly melted into the majestic Augusta pines near the green. Father and son had been able to steal a brief embrace, then the Masters champion was swept away for the series of obligatory responsibilities: inside Butler Cabin, behind the clubhouse, then to the media center.
He figures his father put that quiet time to good use.
“Golf’s been (my father’s) life. The Masters has been something he’s followed for 35 years or more. He probably did need to decompress,” Scott said. “It was probably more of a whirlwind for him than me, because I’m in this environment all the time. But for him, it was something not normal.”
Phil Scott could have found places to be trumpeted, yet remarkably, he located solace. Like son, like father, which always has been central to their story.
“The Scott family is unique in that they are a planning family who understand that the process is upper case to the destination,” said Wally Uihlein, Acushnet Co.’s chief executive, who has known the Scott family for more than 15 years and whose company has been represented by Scott since he turned professional in 2000.
An aspiring golf professional as a young man, Phil Scott remained in the golf business and was crucial to his son’s maturation.
“Phil has been a huge contributor to the shaping of Adam’s character and career, but that was much more so early on than the past five to seven years,” Uihlein said. “But I think Adam’s character is as much dad’s as it is mum’s.”
Adam Scott concurs.
“There are absolutely elements of my dad, a good balance, but my temperament is more my mother’s.”
If Pam Scott, watching back home in Queensland, Australia, saw her son maintain composure during the final round and shine with dignity during the green-jacket ceremony, she had to smile when he all but disappeared from public view in the ensuing days. It was her son staying true to himself, true to the young man whom they had raised.
“I think they know it’s my style to be like that, and naturally they don’t mind that at all,” said Scott, who declined the traditional day-after media blitz and late-night talk-show parade, agreeing only to morning-show appearances for Australian TV and CBS.
Admirable, his humility, but Scott said it was all part of “the plan” that he and Cohen had discussed.
“Not to be a stick in the mud,” Scott said, “but I was conscious of not wasting this opportunity. I was in a similar position after winning The Players in ’04; I was on the edge of being a great player, and I don’t think I took advantage of it.”
When Cohen, who managed Scott from 2007 to ’09, reunited with the golfer at the start of 2012, they had the experience of that Players aftermath and the bumps in the road from 2009. They knew what had gone wrong and were determined that everything would revolve around structure and discipline.
“I felt like, ‘I’m 32, and before you know it, I’ll be 40 and I need to achieve now,’ ” said Scott, who processed this point in his career as Uihlein would have predicted.
“The things that always impressed me about Adam Scott,” Uihlein said, “were (a) an incredible sense of purposefulness, (b) an ability to have both a vision of who he wanted to be and a capacity to figure out how to be that person and (c) unflappable integrity.”
Secure in his decision to decline the post-Masters blitz, Scott finally caught up with his father at a cocktail reception before the dinner.
“He was looking all nice,” said Adam, smiling. “He had gotten a nice, new cashmere sweater because his was all wet from being out in the rain.”
It was 1 a.m. when father and son returned to their rented home where a small group was still gathered. The crowd included
a high school friend from Down Under who works the Masters every spring for Japanese TV and some of Adam’s pals from the Bahamas, where Scott has a home. “They drank me out of the house,” said Scott, laughing. “I think there was one beer each when we got home.”
Later, some “Aussie journalists came back because they were so excited and they took my other beer.”
The party didn’t stretch too much longer before Scott called it a night. He was exhausted, but he couldn’t sleep. Yet the plan would be carried out and the fact that he went on to a stellar stretch run later in the season – tie for third at the Open Championship, tie for fifth at the PGA, a FedEx Cup playoff victory, then two titles in Australia – and top-10s in three of five starts in 2014 is a testament to the effectiveness of his commitment.
“Some people are just ‘well grounded.’ Regardless of how hard the winds of adversity may blow, their sense of who they are and the journey they are on does not change,” Uihlein said.
“That to me is the Adam Scott I know.”