Aussies proud of play
Scott, Day and Ogilvy all led field at one point or another
There would have been beer for breakfast in Australia had Adam Scott, Jason Day or Geoff Ogilvy found a way to hold on to the lead they all shared at one time or another Sunday during the final round of the Masters Tournament.
Unlike past Australian failings at Augusta National Golf Club, though, this wasn't a case of throwing away the tournament with ill-timed shots and missed putts. Scott, Day and Ogilvy were simply caught and passed by the late birdie binge of winner Charl Schwartzel, and all three leave Augusta with no regrets -- but still no Masters title for that golf-rich country.
"One day, Australia will win a green jacket," Day said.
Their efforts were certainly good enough to win had Schwartzel not caught fire. Scott (67) and Day (68), who were paired together, tied for second at 12-under 276, two shots behind Schwartzel. Ogilvy (67) was among the group tied for fourth at 10-under.
Day's week was even more remarkable because he broke the 72-hole scoring record for first-time Masters contestants. The previous record was held by Toshi Izawa in 2001 (10-under, a tie for fourth). Fuzzy Zoeller, the only first-time Masters player to win, shot 8-under in 1979.
The only player who matched Scott's weekend 10-under performance was the tournament winner.
It was the first time three Australians had finished among the top-10 in the Masters. The last time there were two Aussies among the top 10 was in 2005, when Mark Hensby and Rod Pampling tied for fifth.
"I promise you, there's millions of people awake (in Australia) at the moment watching this," Ogilvy said shortly after he finished his round, with Scott and Day still on the course. "They're pretty excited."
The efforts of the Aussie trio didn't erase the ghosts of Greg Norman's collapses in 1986 and 1996, but it might have shown that better days are ahead for that country in the Masters, given the ages of Ogilvy (33), Scott (30) and Day (23).
"There's only positives to take from this week," said Scott, who posted his first top-10 finish at Augusta since 2002, his first appearance.
Scott began the day at 7-under, Day 8-under and Ogilvy 5-under. Scott birdied Nos. 7 and 8 on a pair of 6-foot putts to make the turn at 9-under, but Day and Ogilvy each floundered with two birdies and two bogeys.
As with most of the other contenders, they made their moves on the second nine. Scott's opening salvo was a 35-foot birdie putt at the difficult par-4 11th to put him into a tie for the lead at 10-under and Day made an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 12 and a short tap-in for birdie at No. 13 to also gain a share of the lead.
Ahead of them Ogilvy began the longest birdie streak of the week at Augusta. He knocked in a 15-footer at No. 12 and then birdied out through the next par-3, the 16th. Ogilvy missed his last two greens but got up-and-down for par on both and tied Tiger Woods for the clubhouse lead at 10-under.
"I didn't expect to birdie five in a row," Ogilvy said. "I birdied (No.) 12, and that's a bonus. You've got a couple of eagle (chances) coming up (at Nos. 13 and 15) and you never know what's possible out here. You've seen it done before."
But Ogilvy and Woods were quickly passed by Scott with short birdie putts at Nos. 14 and 16. The latter, after a tee shot that tracked the hole until the last second, gave Scott a brief two-shot lead.
Scott had to work to stay there. He played to the 17th green out of a bunker on the seventh hole, but made a nervy 12-foot par putt. Scott had an 18-foot attempt at No. 18 but admitted "I didn't hit my best putt of the week."
In the meantime, Day was joining his countryman and playing partner with a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 17 and a 6-footer at No. 18.
All they could do was watch and wait for Schwartzel.
"Obviously, I can't control Charl," Scott said. "When you birdie the last four holes at the Masters, that usually wins. Nothing I can do about it. I hung in there for as long as I could. I've got to be pretty proud of the way I played over the weekend."
Day was also upbeat.
"I didn't expect that Charl would come back with four birdies to finish it off," Day said. "But hats off to him. I'm very happy with the way I handled myself out there."
Reach Garry Smits at (904) 359-4362.