Garcia and Rose head to a playoff at the Masters

Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts to a putt for birdie on the third hole during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

It was worth the wait.

However, Rose could only punch out and then wedge his ball to 14 feet while Garcia stuffed his iron shot to 12 feet and drained the birdie to win.

He said: "If there's anyone to lose to, it's Sergio". He overcame a two-shot deficit against Justin Rose and won on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

"I felt good going to the back nine, felt I was going to get plenty of opportunities with a couple of pins and par 5s", Fowler said. Three birdies later, they made the turn to the second nine tied at eight-under, three clear of the field.

Back and forth they go at Augusta National. Rose got the "member's bounce" on approach, watching his shot fade to the right side of the green, only to take a fast hop left to about seven feet. But Rose bogeyed 17, leaving the two tied with one hole to play.

But while he had nine PGA Tour wins to his name, a major triumph has remained out of his grasp. Garcia has never captured one of golf's biggest events. But he had birdies on two of his first four holes and rolled in a 30-footer on the ninth for his third birdie.

Ready to grab the tourney by the throat, Garcia instead almost grabbed his own.

Rose is the 2013 U.S. Open champion and an Olympic gold medalist. Much has been made this week of Garcia's new mental state. He had to take a one-stroke penalty for an unplayable shot, but he still managed to salvage par.

Garcia's hot start gave way to a hard battle on Augusta's second nine, as chasers fell off the pace. Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters are at 1 under and within five.

Kuchar is now at 5 under, three strokes behind Justin Rose. He almost blew his chance to win it in regulation after missing a birdie on 18 in Round 4. Garcia is the 2017 Masters champion!

NOTEWORTHY: Garcia won the Masters in his 19th appearance, the most for any first-time champion. Rose then saved par with a subsequent short putt. He had missed a putt from about the same distance on the same hole that would have given him the win in regulation.

A shot behind is Jordan Spieth, the 2015 green jacket victor who's never finished lower than a tie for second in three Masters appearances.

The final group has teed off at Augusta National.

It was an awesome head-to-head duel between Sergio and Justin. Garcia was unable to capitalize the first time.

It figures to be quite a Sunday shootout at the Masters.

If Saturday is moving day at the Masters, Jordan Spieth is moving in the right direction.

Spieth stopped each time the huge gallery shouted while Garcia and Rose putted out. Yet just as he had failed to close the deal as 54-hole leader in 2016, the final round was proving a bridge too far last night.

If so, the Big Easy hardly went out with a flourish. It was also his highest score in 16 competitive rounds. Els had an even tougher +11 on Saturday. "We'll see, unless we do something down the road". And then, you know, just try to cope with whatever comes your way the best way possible. Whatever. If I come back again, great. "She was trying to pick me up and give me a good boost".

Ernie Els will be playing with a marker in what could be his final round at the Masters. He was twice a runner-up but missed the cut five of the last 10 years. I still have a bunch of good years in me and feel this is one I can still knock off. No one else on the course was anywhere near their lead.

Rose, who also closed with a 69, graciously patted Garcia's cheek before they embraced.

QUOTEWORTHY: "I felt a calmness that I never felt on a major Sunday". "I was either five yards short or five yards long", he said.

Rickie Fowler desperately wants a major title.

And Garcia said he has nothing but respect for his friend and rival.

He summed up his rundown saying, "There's wonderful storylines". Garcia has played in 71 straight majors and hopes to shed the title of the best-ever without a major win. 10 and 11 to fall two strokes back.

  • Julie Sanders