It was the top of the third inning at Cashman Field on Sunday. The Las Vegas 51s brain trust was gathered around the press box TV watching the Masters unfold when someone asked about the leaderboard.
It was still early at Augusta National. But 51s executive director Don Logan said it was shaping up as a two-man battle, Angel Cabrera vs. Brandt Snedeker.
“What about the UNLV guy?”
No, Logan said. He didn’t think Adam Scott, who had played as a Rebel for a year and a half during the late 1990s, could mount another charge on this big a stage — not after collapsing at last year’s British Open with his first major title within tantalizing reach.
But Scott did make another charge. It was pressure-packed, but he did not flinch.
And when he sank a long birdie putt on the second hole of sudden death with his equally long putter to beat Cabrera, the Masters championship no longer was tantalizingly within Scott’s reach.
It now was firmly in his grasp.
And then the Australian was trying on the green jacket, and then the phone was ringing like mad at UNLV golf coach Dwaine Knight’s home in Spanish Trail, and then the congratulatory text messages started pouring in like the steady rain poured down at Augusta National on Sunday.
“Pretty special deal,” Knight said after the phone stopped ringing long enough so he could return a phone call. “I’m so proud of Adam. That’s pretty awesome stuff.”
It was just two majors ago that Knight texted Scott after his former recruit self-destructed at the British Open by bogeying the last four holes and losing to Ernie Els.
Knight told his former player that he still was mighty proud, that the mark of a true champion is his ability to come back from adversity.
Scott had answered every question about throwing away the British Open with class and dignity. He kept his upper lip stiffer than his iron shots when he’s playing well. He made a bunch of new fans.
“I was so proud of the way he handled it,” Knight said. “I told Adam and his dad that it would make him tougher. I think it did. He’s got an amazing swing and touch, and a very mild exterior to him, but underneath there bubbles a champion.”
Scott’s dramatic victory was the first major championship for a former UNLV player, though several have been close.
In addition to Scott coming up short at Lytham St. Annes in England in 2012, Knight spoke of Chad Campbell losing a playoff to Cabrera (and Kenny Perry) in the 2009 Masters; of Campbell finishing second to Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA Championship; of Chris Riley coming in third at the PGA in 2002.
And now he’s speaking of Adam Scott, a former UNLV Rebel, being a Masters champion, and he likes the way that sounds.
“It’s sort of like a lifetime achievement award for a golf coach,” Knight said. “It’s quite a tribute to our program.
“But I’m just so happy for Adam. Sometimes life is good. Today it was.”
Contact columnist Ron Kantowski at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.