Ranking the Best Performances by Australian Golfers in Masters History

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIApril 15, 2013

Ranking the Best Performances by Australian Golfers in Masters History

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    Adam Scott won his and Australia's first green jacket Sunday night after defeating Angel Cabrera in a two-hole playoff at the 2013 Masters.

    With his breakthrough, an Australian player has now won all four of golf's biggest championships.

    From Greg Norman's near-misses at Augusta to Scott's victory, here are the best eight performances at the Masters from "Down Under" of all time.

    (The words "Nick Faldo" and "1996" do not appear in this article.)

8. Jim Ferrier's Runner-Up in 1950

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    A native of Sydney, Ferrier took a two-shot lead over Ben Hogan into the final round.

    A three-over 75 on Sunday, however, saw him slip to second at three-under, watching Jimmy Demaret's closing 69 move him to five-under and the win.

    It was the best Augusta performance from the 1947 PGA Champion.

7. Jack Newton's Nine-Under in 1980 Second Best

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    David Graham, Australia's best golfer of the 1960s and '70s, had some top-10 finishes at Augusta over the years along with Bruce Crampton, but it was Jack Newton that grabbed a career-best second-place finish in 1980.

    Trailing eventual champion Seve Ballesteros by eight going into Sunday, Newton fired a four-under 68 to tie Gibby Gilbert for second place and finish four shots behind Ballesteros.

6. Greg Norman's 1986 Near-Breakthrough Good Enough for Second

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    In a year that saw him carry the 54-hole lead at all four majors, Greg Norman's tie for second place at the 1986 Masters has been lost to history.

    At six-under going into the final round, Norman birdied the par-three sixth to reach seven-under. As Jack Nicklaus started his famous run that would see him win his fifth green jacket further ahead, Norman would get into trouble on the 10th hole and make a double-bogey.

    However, the putter got hot, and he would birdie four straight holes from 14-17 before standing on the last hole tied with Nicklaus at nine-under.

    His approach on 18 missed the green right. He could not get up and down to save his par and would miss a potential playoff with Nicklaus.

5. Jason Day's Near-Miss in 2013

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    Jason Day had hung around the top of the leaderboard the entire weekend before falling just short in a bid for his first major.

    After dropping shots on the closing two holes Saturday to slide back to five-under, Day started Sunday with a birdie on the first and a chip-in for eagle from a green-side bunker on the par-five second.

    After giving away two shots at the end of the first nine, Day again blasted a great shot from a bunker on the par-five 13th to make a birdie. More birdies followed at 14 and 15, which gave him the lead at nine-under, but an overzealous tee shot on the par-three 16th went over the green, and he could not save his par.

    Another bogey would come at 17, leaving Day in second place and out of the playoff that saw his fellow countryman Adam Scott win his first Masters.

4. Jason Day Nearly Wins Masters Debut in 2011

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    Trailing Rory McIlroy by four shots heading into the final day, the 23-year-old found himself tied with Adam Scott with the clubhouse lead at the end of his round.

    On the first nine, Day would shoot an even-par 36 after bouncing back twice from bogey with a birdie. 

    A birdie on the difficult par-three 12th would kickstart his round as he matched that with a birdie at 13. Pars followed until he closed his championship bid with another set of back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18.

    However, Charl Schwartzel stole the show. After McIlroy went off the rails on 10, 11 and 12, Schwartzel would birdie the last four to pass Day and Scott and claim his first major.

3. Adam Scott Also Nearly Misses in 2011

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    Like Jason Day, Adam Scott also started the final round of the 2011 Masters four shots behind Rory McIlroy.

    Scott had a very steady round. Two-under on the first nine, Scott recorded three birdies, and his lone bogey of the day was on the par-four seventh. 

    Then Scott birdied the difficult 11th and 14th before grabbing a two-shot lead with a birdie at 16.

    First, Day joined him in the clubhouse at 12-under, then they both watched Charl Schwartzel's incredible run on the last four holes to win outright.

2. Greg Norman's Closest Miss: Larry Mize's Miracle in 1987

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    The late 1980s were the pinnacle of Greg Norman's career.

    After only capturing the Open Championship in 1986 despite leading all four majors after 54 holes, Norman picked up where he left off in the first major of 1987.

    Norman struggled through the first two rounds with 73 and 74, entering the weekend at three-over par. But Saturday saw him shoot a 66 and get right back into the fight, trailing Ben Crenshaw, Roger Maltbie and Bernhard Langer by one.

    As the three leaders faded, Larry Mize and Seve Ballesteros would tie Norman at three-under.

    With a 20-footer to win outright, Norman pushed his championship bid just past.

    After Ballesteros was eliminated from the sudden-death playoff, Norman and Mize moved on to the 11th hole. Mize missed the 11th green right, and Norman played it safe, leaving a 50-footer for a certain par.

    Mize holed his 140-foot chip for birdie, and Norman would make par.

1. Adam Scott Wins the 2013 Masters

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    Trailing Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker by one shot entering Sunday, Adam Scott opened his championship run with a bogey on the first.

    However, a birdie on the third would see him find some balance, and Scott made the turn even on the first nine.

    Going for the par-five 13th in two, Scott reached the green and two-putted for a birdie. He would also birdie the 15th to grab a share of the lead at eight-under.

    Tied with Cabrera, Scott hit a beautiful tee shot and approach on the closing hole and calmly sunk his birdie putt for a brief solo lead. Cabrera countered with the best approach shot of his life on 18, sticking his effort to within a couple of feet.

    After exchanging pars on the first playoff hole, both players had birdie chances on the par-four 10th.

    Cabrera's was longer, and his putt just missed by a couple inches.

    Taking a deep breath, Scott rolled in his medium-length effort and won his first major and Australia's first Masters.