As an old friend of mine once told me, second is the first loser. For Adam Scott and Jason Day, there was probably a moment when they both felt like this at the conclusion of the Masters.
At least this time, an Australian runner-up spot (or two) at Augusta gave us more reason to smile than the last time it occurred – 15 years ago this week.
It was then that we all awoke early to watch Greg Norman melt down trying to defend a six-shot lead, and there was some deja vu for fans of Rory McIlroy as he crumbled from a four-shot lead to shoot 80.
McIlroy lead for 63 holes of the 72, Scott lead for four and the eventual winner, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, got into the right spot for holes 71 and 72.
Scott, with a final round of 67, and Day, with 68, charged home to finish with the clubhouse lead, both at 12 under for 72 holes. Both made brilliant pressure putts in the closing two holes, Scott to save par and Day finishing with twin birdies, to give themselves the best possible chance to be the first Australian to win a famous green jacket.
Unfortunately for us, Schwartzel had an even more dazzling performance, birdieing the final four holes of the major to claim his first Augusta win.
Geoff Ogilvy made a brilliant charge to rival Schwartzel’s, with five birdies in a row from hole 12. Unfortunately he was coming from too far back.
While Scott and Day are to be commended for their attacking play and maintaining momentum through their rounds, ultimately they now join an ever expanding list of Australian runners-up at Magnolia Drive.
Ferrier, Crampton, Newton, and Norman (three times) have all been runner-up at Augusta, and after 75 years and 63 green jackets we still wait for one to be fitted for Australian shoulders.
Now our appetite has been whetted for success in the majors – something Australia is starved for considering the golfing talent we produce.
Being in contention in the closing holes of a major is as difficult as winning premierships. Just getting there can be hard enough – ask the Western Bulldogs or St Kilda.
I fear we could still be waiting a while. No one has a right to win a major and this latest episode at the Masters could mean the curse continues for Australia for a few years yet.
Ultimately we have to be happy for Day and Scott, and know they will be back. Scott will have renewed confidence in his putting using his broomstick and Day the confidence of the best score at Augusta on debut.
When they will be back in contention to win at Augusta we will have wait and see. Sunday 8th April 2012 we will be checking the scores to see if any Aussies are in striking distance.
If so we will set the alarm to rise early as a nation in early hours of Monday morning, to sit on the edge of our couches, delaying that trip to work as long as we can, hoping that the drought will end.
I can’t wait.