Column: A lifetime to arrive, a heartbeat to miss

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 22, 2012
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist Thirteen seconds elapsed from the moment Adam Scott anchored the broomstick-length putter to his sternum and watched the 7-foot par putt slide by on the left side of the cup at 18, causing his knees to buckle. The rest of his golfing life may pass before he puts himself back in that position again. The major championship trophy that Scott seemed destined at long last to hold was firmly in Ernie Els' grasp instead. The Aussie's eyes were still dry, but glassy. A few hundred yards away, a crowd that packed the last grandstand at Royal Lytham expecting to celebrate a once-precocious talent finally coming into his own at age 32, filed out in almost-funereal silence. They, too, seemed stunned by one of the biggest collapses in British Open history. ''Look, it may not have sunk in yet, so I don't know,'' is how Scott began describing his emotions. ''Hopefully I can let it go really quick and get on with what I plan to do next week and get ready for my next tournament. We'll see. I don't know. I've never really been in this position, so I'll have to wait and see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow.'' Scott paused and absent-mindedly drummed his fingertips on the tabletop in front of him. He stared somewhere off in the distance. ''It's tough. You don't want to sit here and have to ... I can't justify anything that I've done out there. I didn't finish the tournament well today. But next time, I'm sure there will be a next time,'' Scott looked out hopefully toward a roomful of reporters, ''and I can do a better job of it.'' There is no kind way to say it, but Scott could hardly have done a worse job. He bogeyed the last four holes in succession, compounding each mistake with another unrelated one - a blown sand save at 15, a missed 3-footer at 16, a wayward approach at 17, and finally, an errant drive at the last - until it resembled a chain-reaction car crash. That sequence left his playing partner, Graeme McDowell, trying several times to avert his gaze. ''I was watching out of the corner of my eye,'' McDowell said. ''I wouldn't say I had given up and was intent on what Adam was doing ... but it's hard to watch. It's hard to watch a guy do that. Yet, like a reluctant witness, McDowell couldn't turn away. ''The putt on 16 was huge for him to miss that,'' the Northern Irishman resumed a minute later. ''He hit a great drive down the middle of 17, and half of England right of that pin, and he missed it left. 18 is a tough tee shot, let's be honest. So he's going to be extremely heartbroken and disappointed, but he's a great, great, great player, and that's what I tried to convey to him on the last green. ''Like I say, it felt like a futile exercise trying to say anything to him,'' McDowell finished. ''I'm sure he's going to be unbelievably disappointed.'' The short putt at the 16th might have been the most unsettling to those of us watching. But Scott chose the 6-iron from 178 yards out on the 17th fairway as the one he most wanted back. It landed short of the green in waist-high grass, and he failed to convert that up-and-down. ''I felt surprisingly calm and I felt like I had everything under control. When I was over the ball, I felt like I was going to hit a good shot, and that was the way I played all week,'' Scott recalled. He paused again, replaying the sequence in his mind, and smiled ruefully. ''But I didn't make a good swing on that one,'' Scott said quietly. Every time an Australian athlete fails to slam the door in a big game, the inevitable comparison is to Greg Norman, whose collapse in 1996 Masters still makes even the most-hardened professionals squirm. Norman, perhaps not surprisingly, was Scott's boyhood hero. ''I thought he was a great role model, how he handled himself in victory and defeat,'' Scott said. ''He set a good example for us.'' The way Scott carried himself throughout the toughest afternoon of his life was proof of that. When Geoff Ogilvy, Scott's best pal on the pro golfing circuit, won the 2006 U.S. Open after a similarly surprising collapse by Phil Mickelson, Scott was at the airport about to board a plane. He turned around and high-tailed it back to Winged Foot in time to join the party. On Sunday, it was Ogilvy who tried in some small way to return the favor. ''Happy for Ernie,'' he tweeted, ''but I feel very sick right now.'' He wasn't the only one. ---(equals) Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Aaron Rodgers takes shot at the Georgia Dome’s allegedly fake crowd noise

Russell Westbrook responds to All-Star snub

Report: Knicks, Melo to part ways by next season

Report: Pau Gasol out up to six weeks after hand surgery

Adam Jones to serve as penalty box attendant for minor league hockey team

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Paxton Lynch to be given chance to win Broncos’ job

Patriots have a magician perform tricks for players every Friday?

Indiana's OG Anunoby needs knee surgery, out for remainder of season

Tom Brady refuses to discuss Donald Trump: ‘Let’s talk about football stuff’

Report: 49ers could target Kirk Cousins in trade that includes No. 2 overall pick

Mike McCarthy: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams may be game-time decisions

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Golf News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker