Garcia takes early control of Masters final round

All the omens had seemed in place for a Spanish victory with Garcia starting the day perched atop the leaderboard alongside Rose on Ballesteros's 60th birthday.

But Rose quickly answered with a birdie of his own to tie the score.

Or perhaps he was thinking of the 7-footer at the 17th, the one he just didn't hit hard enough, resulting in a bogey that sent him to the 72nd hole tied with Garcia. 10 and 11 to fall two behind Rose, who appeared unyielding.

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Spain's Sergio Garcia ended almost two decades of major disappointment when he beat England's Justin Rose in a playoff to win the US Masters on Sunday, donning the Green Jacket on what would have been the 60th birthday of his hero, the late Seve Ballesteros.

He rolled in a 5-foot putt at the first hole, breaking a tie for the lead with England's Justin Rose.

Sergio went on to birdie the 14th and then he eagled the 15th, hitting a dazzling approach shot to within 14 feet.

The Spaniard and Englishman began the final round sharing top spot on the leaderboard, with American young guns Rickie Fowler and 2015 victor Jordan Spieth in hot pursuit.

Four-times major victor Ernie Els playing in his 23rd Masters, took what could have been his final bow at Augusta National, signing off with six-over 78 leaving the South African rock bottom of leaderboard on 20-over. Rose, who has one major - the 2013 U.S. Open - to his name, showed disappointment in being unable to win the Masters.

"It's always nice to be recognised or seen as the best player to not have won a major, because at least - "best player" - there's a good thing there!".

It figures to be quite a Sunday shootout at the Masters. The 2015 Masters champion was all but gone after a frustrating, quadruple bogey nine on the 15th hole in Thursday's opening round. Fowler is one shot off the lead, while Spieth is part of a group at 4 under.

So there he was at the 2017 Masters, paired up with Rose in the day's final grouping.

If so, the Big Easy hardly went out with a flourish.

A week of Masters lore demanded a high-profile Sunday finish, in this case dueling Euros at several paces and extra golf.

With his five year exemption for winning the 2012 British Open about to expire, Els will not get an automatic invitation back to Augusta next year.

"Maybe now I'll be 'the best player to have only won one major, '" Garcia joked.

It finally came in the Spaniard's 75th appearance in one of those events, having teed up in 71 consecutively stretching back to the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie. "I've had so many good chances and either I lost them or someone has done something extraordinary to beat me".

Els has played the Masters 23 times. He missed the cut previous year after shooting an 80 on Thursday and 73 on Friday (9-over-par).

"The other night he was saying, "What do you think it takes to be classified as a superstar in golf?' Because everybody uses the word "superstar" and 'great" in all sports, and they're not".

Brendan Steele had the hottest start at the Masters on Sunday.

Now that Garcia has that first green jacket in the closet and a summer wedding on the way, more majors might follow.

Sergio Garcia celebrates after holing his birdie putt in the play-off at Augusta National. He's still eight shots behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia at 6-under.

  • Julie Sanders