Sergio Garcia Wins 2017 Masters



 

Sergio Garcia is officially a major champion. Let that sink in for a bit. The 37-year-old Spaniard held off Justin Rose in a playoff to claim his first major victory in his 74th attempt, a drought of just about 18 years. On what would have been Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday, Garcia holed a 12-footer for birdie on the first hole of sudden death to claim the coveted green jacket and $1.98 million in the process.

Garcia and Rose were paired together in the final group on Sunday and it became clear it was going to be a two-man heavyweight bout, especially when the star-studded pairing of Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth sputtered out of the gate. After making birdies on one and three, Sergio was in the driver’s seat. However, a string of pars and three quick birds in a row by Rose left them tied for the lead as they made the turn.

As the saying goes, the Masters always comes down to the back nine on Sunday. Sergio started, well, Sergio-like, with two bogeys on 10 and 11 leaving him quickly two back of Rose heading into the par-5 13. Garcia then pulled his drive under a bush left of Rae’s Creek where he had to take an unplayable lie. After a lay up, he wedged one close and somehow salvaged par. Meanwhile Rose missed his birdie putt and a chance to take control. Garcia then made birdie on 14 to cut the one.

Then Sergio grabbed the bull by the horns, literally and figuratively, and made a timely eagle on the par-5 15th. Ironically the last person to eagle 15 on Sunday and go on to win was fellow countryman José María Olazábal back in 1994. Both hit darts on the par-3 16th, but only Rose was able to convert his two and grabbed the lead once again. However, he gave it right back with a bogey on 17. Finally, Sergio had a chance to win it in regulation with a birdie on 18, but his five-footer slid by forcing a sudden death playoff.

 

After a Rose wayward drive and a punch out on the first playoff hole, Sergio found himself with two putts from 12 feet for his first major. As it turned out, he only needed one.

“I’m thrilled to be standing here this late on Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening” Garcia said during his post-round press conference. “It’s always a beautiful thing to have. So it’s been an amazing week, and I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”

As expected, Rose handled the defeat graciously and basically said it best.

“If I had anybody to lose to, it would be Sergio. He’s had his fair share of heartbreaks.”

After Garcia and Rose, 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel finished in solo third, with Matt Kuchar and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters in a tie for fourth. Here are final results of the 81st Masters Tournament:

 

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