Masters 2017: The numbers behind Sergio Garcia's Augusta victory

"I don't have the thing I need to have ... in 13 years I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place".

And what could be a more fitting tournament to do it than in the Masters, long considered the most prestigious of the four majors-the other three being the British Open, US Open and Professional Golfers Association Championship.

Justin Rose was bloodied but unbowed after losing to Sergio Garcia in a dramatic playoff at the U.S. Masters on Sunday.

He was a new man with a new title: Masters champion. I covered live the 1991 Masters, with Welsh Ian Woosnam winning it. Rose led by two shots after the 12th hole, and Garcia hit his drive on No. 13 so far left that he had to take a penalty drop because of an unplayable lie. But three birdies and an eagle on the final seven holes had him momentarily as the leader in the clubhouse.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal has been diminished by injuries, soccer players Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez are near the end, Pau Gasol is no longer a major force in the NBA, Alberto Contador has lost the title of Tour de France favorite, and Formula One driver Fernando Alonso looks downright miserable in his broken McLaren.

The congratulations rolled in, led by a telegram from Spanish King Felipe VI saying "your achievement is a spectacular triumph for Spanish golf".

Another of Garcia's idols, Olazabal - a two-time victor at Augusta - left a note for Garcia ahead of Thursday's opening round, and the new Masters champion is keen to take him up on an offer. Spieth shot 75 and was six strokes behind Garcia six holes into the round.

Rose, who also closed with a 69, graciously patted Garcia's cheek before they embraced. Even flubbing a five-foot birdie coming back. Delighted as he was to beat Justin Rose in a play-off at Augusta National to finally get that monkey off his back, the Spaniard is hoping this is just the start.

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.

That cushioned Rose's birdie on the same hole as both headed to 16 all tied up. He saved par on that hole to stay within two shots of Rose, who pointed to that as the difference in the tournament.

"I knew what I was capable of doing, and I believed that I could do it", he said. Garcia's approach shot came two inches from landing in the cup before hitting the pin and rolling to 14 feet.

Garcia led by three shots after five holes, but Rose rallied with birdies on Nos.

He crouched in disbelief, both fists clenched and shaking, and he shouted above the loudest roar of the day.

Sergio Garcia, the dashing Spaniard who somehow managed to become 37 years old before winning his first major championship, will make the most of his new accomplishment. Not at all. I have a lovely life. And then it happened. Olazabal (winner in 1994 and 1999).

After burying the majors demon that had haunted his golfing career for almost 20 years at the U.S. Masters, Sergio Garcia is now setting his sights on the British Open at Southport in July. "I'm happy I found her, and I think she's happy she found me, which is great", he said.

  • Julie Sanders