Garcia, Rose poised for Masters back nine showdown

Sergio Garcia is no longer in the conversation of outstanding golfers to never win a major. He lost some heartbreakers, and he often lost his composure along the way.

The 37-year-old Spaniard took the greatest triumph of his career, and a $1.98 million top prize from an $11 million payout, on what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, two-time Masters champion and three-time British Open Victor Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54.

One of the biggest might be Rose, who enters the fray at Augusta National with a championship pedigree and a closer's ability to come through in the big moment.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Sergio Garcia tugged the lapel of his green jacket with both hands, proud of his prize and how he earned it. He is the 2017 Masters champion, overcoming years of baggage, his nerves and ultimately Justin Rose on the first playoff hole, a birdie on 18 the difference.

The Masters is first of four men's golf events throughout the year. "I felt the calmest I've ever felt on a major Sunday".

Back-to-back Garcia bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes ceded the lead by two, then when Rose hit a towering drive down 13 and watched as his good friend fiddled over his drop in the pine straw, it seemed the Spaniard's major heartbreak would continue.

Garcia found 10 (of 14) fairways and 14 greens in regulation, posting 1.61 average putts per hole with zero, 3-putts.

Rose, the 2013 US Open victor, birdied five of the last seven holes to shoot 67 in ideal conditions.

"Under the gun, with the pressure, it's not that easy to do", Garcia said. Instead, Spieth scored a double bogey, which felt like a small victory compared to the shot that ended his quest for back-to-back Masters Titles a year ago.

One of the most heartbreaking disappointments came in 2007 when his eight-foot par putt to win the British Open spun out of the cup and left him bent over in disbelief.

But on the brink of disaster, Garcia battled back, salvaging a par at 13 and staying two back when Rose missed a three-foot birdie putt. Rahm climbed as high as No. 12 in the world rankings, but a rookie mistake at his final hole of the tournament - a triple bogey - dropped him 16 places on the leaderboard and into a tie for 27th. You guessed it: Olazabal in 1994. "I knew I was playing well enough", Garcia said. But then so did Garcia, from a shorter distance.

Garcia won on what would have been the 60th birthday of Ballesteros, a date seemingly destined for great things from him. “And even after making a couple of bogeys, I was still very positive.

It was ideal that Garcia, whose weakness always has been his putting, failed to win the tournament on the 18th hole in regulation.

Five feet away from winning, his birdie putt peeled off to the right. "I'm still the same goofy guy, so that's not going to change".

"I hit the putt exactly where I wanted".

While Garcia very much won the Masters, Rose missed some opportunities down the stretch.

"That two-shot swing was when he was back in the tournament", Rose said.

"I felt pretty much in control of my game and the tournament for the most part all day", Rose told reporters.

  • Julie Sanders