Adam Scott at Masters 2013: Does Green Jacket Make Him the New Phil Mickelson?
The weather was a bit better and the celebration a tad more distinctive, but the circumstances were strikingly similar.
In 2004, Phil Mickelson stood 18 feet from the cup at Augusta National's 18th hole, head centered over the ball, eyes staring into the dimpled infinity of a birdie putt that would forever alter his career narrative.
Nine years later, Adam Scott found himself at a similar distance on the very same green. He too was up against a competitive history defined by near misses and outsider sympathies.
Both putts fell.
Mickelson's birdie proved the difference, lifting him to a one-stroke Masters win over Ernie Els. Scott would need a pair of playoff holes to grab his own green jacket, but the outcome was the same. For both men, that 18th green was primary.
Since winning that first major at 33, Mickelson has captured two more green jackets and added a PGA Championship title to his ever-growing collection of accolades. In doing so, he's gone from perennial bridesmaid to esteemed champion, from likeable to revered.
It's tempting to wonder if Scott, 32, might follow a similar path.
Mickelson, it should be said, was more accomplished than Scott at the time of his breakthrough. He had 17 top-10 finishes at the majors compared to Scott's eight, nine top-fives to Scott's three.
But the salient point is that both men were accomplished and long overdue for a title. Beyond that, both felt (at the time of their triumphs) like superstars stuck in a holding pattern, each waiting for the big-stage breakthrough that would unlock his latent appeal.
Lefty had always been adored for his creativity and the zeal with which he approached tough angles. Prior to 2004, golf fans had long waited for his spirited style and immense talent to receive its just reward.
Scott's game isn't as distinct as Mickelson, but he is equally admired, at least among female fans. There's little doubting Scott's incredible commercial potential.
Adam Scott. Your Masters champ. So beautiful. In more than one way. Clutch.— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) April 14, 2013
But what links the two more than anything is the failure that preceded their inaugural green jackets.
Mickelson was the near-legend who couldn't win the big one. Scott was the blooming talent dogged by Sunday misfortune.
In 2012, Scott famously bogeyed his final four holes at the Open Championship to fritter away what had once been a four-stroke Sunday lead. One year earlier at Augusta, the Adelaide native led at the 71st hole only to watch South African Charl Schwartzel make a miraculous late charge.
One win puts those calamities in the past tense.
Scott isn't the man who cannot win anymore. He's the man who won, and everything that came before now leads to that triumph.
For Mickelson, the 2004 victory at Augusta was the prelude to his prime. It unburdened him in ways that became more and more obvious as the years progressed.
Scott now hovers in a similar space. His potential is clear. His psyche unshackled.
The only thing left to do now is keep winning.
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