Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Land of Oz: One Masters Champion and One Catholic Saint

Only one Australian golfer has won The Masters. Although Greg Norman (and Nick Price) share the low course record with an impressive 63, "the Great White Shark" failed to capture the green jacket. His performance is unfortunately, quite memorable. As written in USA Today (April 1996), "Greg Norman shot a startling 78 Sunday in the greatest collapse in Masters history, giving Nick Faldo his third green jacket and sixth major championship."

Australia had provided nine Masters runners-up but not a single winner before 2013. That is until Adam Scott made history for himself and his countrymen. No wonder he screamed "C'mon Aussies!" when he nailed a 20-foot birdie on the 18th hole of regulation to tie for the lead. Two shots later, he defeated Angel Cabrera in a sudden death playoff to win the 77th Masters.
And much to my surprise, Australia has but one Catholic saint. Earlier this week, one of my students who hails from Down Under taught his classmates about her: St. Mary of MacKillop. He wanted us to know about her legacy, her ministry and that they are both from Western Australia. He was proud of their shared faith and homeland, so proud, they we were convinced his accent was louder and prouder than usual. He denied it, adding that his fellow countrymen don't all listen to AC/DC or Men at Work, but they do use words like "mate" and "cheers." Less than 12 hours later, I caught an interview with Adam Scott on the Golf Channel. He concluded the conversation by saying...wait for it..."thanks, mate. Cheers." That was fun to see. 
Australians' authentic and deep love for their country has always inspired and intrigued me. My student has taught me it's not a blind love; he admits there is a collective recognition that social problems abound: intense racism, sexism and xenophobia. And yet the Land of Oz is home—it's motherland, it's a work in progress, warts, accents and all.

Three Aussies have made the final cut for the 2016 Masters: Adam Scott, Jason Day and Cameron Smith. At this point Day, who lives in the US but refuses to renounce his citizenship, is the only one in contention (he is 3 off the leader, Jordan Spieth). Perhaps he should call upon on the intercession of St. Mary of Mackillop; her prayer is a beautiful one. Or at the very least, should he sink a long put for birdie, yell "C'mon Aussies!" If and when he does, I'll raise my $2.00 cup of beer (no joke...more on that to come) and say "Cheers, mate."

Photo Credits
Adam Scott

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