My Year in Golf: Jim McCabe

Adam Scott celebrates his win on the 10th hole during a playoff with Angel Cabrera at the 2013 Masters.

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4:53:17 AM ET. 10/22/2014




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Most special are the sights and sounds that remain with you as a golf season melts into the horizon. What registered with more impact, though, is something that went unseen.

The immediate aftermath to the final putt at an unforgettable Masters, for instance. It was a chance for a father to capture part of the spotlight, to share some of the glory, to show the world how much joy filled his very being. Instead, Phil Scott treated that situation with a dignity and class to be admired; out of view of cameras, he embraced Adam just off the 10th green and needed but the briefest of moments.

“It will never, ever get better than this,” Phil Scott said to his son, who returned the embrace. “You’re right,” Adam said.

And with that, Adam Scott was loaded into a golf car and whisked up the hill from the 10th green, scene of his playoff triumph over Angel Cabrera. Phil Scott? He vanished into the Augusta dusk, content to leave golf’s most precious stage to his son. Efforts were made by a gaggle of reporters to secure Phil Scott’s reactions, but he quietly wandered in another direction, accompanied by an immense pride, not a desire for attention.

Cheers to him and more cheers to a man who showed he is truly his father’s son, because in the days following the first Masters triumph by an Aussie, Adam Scott personified humility and style. He respectfully declined a flood of invites to appear on television and radio talk shows – to run the New York media gauntlet, as they say.

In this “Look At Me” era of athletes and their celebratory dances, Twitter accounts, YouTube moments, chest-thumping slam dunks, and outrageous commentaries, Scott is a treasure, and his post-Masters actions showed it. Saturated in duende, but not immersed in self-adulation, Scott retired to his getaway in the Bahamas to share his achievement with a few friends – some of them PGA Tour colleagues, some of them caddies.

“He’s not trying to be a rock star,” Phil Scott said.

What he is, however, is a breath of fresh air and a credit to a sport that rarely disappoints, even if it occasionally confounds, as it did this past year. There was, after all, the introduction of deer antler spray.

Seriously, deer antler spray. Who knew?

And how did we discover such a thing as deer antler spray? Vijay Singh told us about it. Singh talks? Who knew?

That the drama involving Singh and the PGA Tour is still ongoing is disheartening – we signed on to cover the birdies and bogeys, not the suits and countersuits. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life in this litigious world in which we live. Golf is usually blessed to have few of these soap operas, though a few appeared on the radar in 2013. Deer antler spray for one, anchoring for another. It had existed for years with few concerns, at least until it finally got under the skin of select golf leaders. Unfortunately, they’re leaders with serious clout, so with little regard for the bewilderment of it all – for years it’s OK, now it’s not – Peter Dawson’s charge to outlaw anchoring left Tim Clark shaking his head.

“If there really was a ‘comment period’ we all know it was all smoke and mirrors. Their minds were made up,” said Clark, standing on the putting green at Colonial Country Club.

No matter where you stand on the issue, it’s hard not to sympathize with Clark. He’s played by the rules all these years, now they’re telling him the rules are wrong? Perplexing stuff, especially because it seemed so unnecessary.

The dramas aside, it was a season that left indelible memories in the tournaments that matter the most – the Masters with Scott’s feel-good story, Justin Rose making the return to Merion something to cherish, Phil Mickelson doing what never was expected of him and winning on the best links of them all (Muirfield), and Jason Dufner cashing in on a second chance.

But in each case, a loyal and devoted caddie was on the winning bag and offering perspective from quiet corners.

Steve Williams from the parking lot at Augusta National, explaining how Scott’s failure at the 2012 Open Championship paid dividends on this day: “Those things make you strong and today proved that. He played exceptional golf coming down the stretch.”

Mark Fulcher, off to the side of the 18th green, acknowledged that Rose’s U.S. Open win grew out of plays like the bogey he settled for late in Round 2: “We know the course asks you to take bogey at times. You never know where that stroke will come in handy.”

Jim “Bones” Mackay, fighting back tears behind the 18th green at Muirfield, overcome with emotion in this most stunning win by the man who has been his boss and best friend for 22 years: “The first time I caddied for him, the guy didn’t have $10.”

Kevin Baile, Auburn through and through, just like the man for whom he works, sat in the locker room at Oak Hill, nursed a beer, and deflected the suggestion that he believed Dufner was owed redemption: “I believe in hard work.”

Soft words in each case, but meaningful enough that they echo all these weeks later, even as the calendar prepares to turn. What lingers, too, are emphatic victories by Mother Nature – just in case you forgot who really has a power game. She was at her incomparable self from start to finish with a variety of assaults – too much wind in Maui, too much snow in Arizona, too much rain from Torrey Pines to Merion to Oak Hill.

But from the Go Figure, Dept., the most improbable occurrence of the 2013 PGA Tour season came in mid-July. Following a circus that took us from Hawaii to California, Florida to South Carolina, Georgia to Texas, who would have predicted that we’d find our best weather on a trip to Scotland.

That it developed into the best championship was a delectable bonus.

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