You had to admire Adam Scott’s firm grasp of perspective on Saturday night. He was talking up the possibility of the none-for-77 Aussie hoodoo at Augusta coming to an end, claiming that the three Australians high up the leaderboard looked like the best chance the nation ever had. “Except for 1996,” Scott added as rejoinder.

Everyone remembers, of course, the slow death of Greg Norman that year, from five shots up at the start of final round. It was the ultimate signal from the golf gods that, when it came toAugusta,Australiawould suffer in the most undignified ways.

For a moment, Scott’s breakthrough victory on Monday morning looked like it would be the most exquisite torture yet. Scott had been denied before at the Masters rather memorably, by Charl Schwartzel’s late run. This year was even more tense – that freewheeling Argentine Angel Cabrera, who only seems to pop up at Majors, emerged to once again consignAustralia’s hopes to spike bar mutterings.

If Scott had been defeated, the shame of it all was he wouldn’t have lost it. And that’s the thing about golf – you can play well and lose, and be average in victory. The sight of the normally reserved Queenslander effusively holing the putt on the 72nd had all the look of an iconic moment, only to have Cabrera drop his thunderbolt soon after. Over his career, Scott had been knocked as too nice a guy to win the big one (something that stood out in the Tiger era), and it grated on him. Speaking to Golf Australia magazine last year, he said: “When people say I don’t have heart, it really gets on my goat and it’s unfair.”

In that moment on the 18th green, win or lose, Scott put an end to that criticism forever. Two playoff holes later, he put an end to something a whole lot bigger for Australian golf.