Garcia wants to share champions' locker with Olazabal
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 12, 2017,
Apr 12, 2017, 9:21
Needing his best golf on just about every shot in the final hour at the Masters, Garcia overcame a two-shot deficit with six holes to play and beat Justin Rose in a sudden-death playoff Sunday for his first major after almost two decades of heartache.
The Spaniard's victory came almost 18 years after a runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship and 22 top-10 finishes in major tournaments without winning.
Garcia, generally recognized as the best player never to win a major championship, finally removed that stigma against someone who knew a bit about how that felt before his breakthrough victory at the 2013 U.S. Open.
It was worth the wait. The sudden-death playoff was a bit anticlimactic, pretty much decided when Rose drove behind a towering magnolia tree right of the fairway, forcing him to punch out and hope he could somehow make par. At the par-4 14th hole, he dialed in his 160-yard approach to seven feet and dropped another birdie putt.
When he missed his putt at 18 it was hard not to recall the missed putt in 2007 at Carnoustie, where Garcia ultimately lost in a playoff.
In a delightful twist of fate, Garcia's first Major at the 74th time of asking came on what would have been Ballesteros's 60th birthday.
"I felt I had it under control round the turn, he obviously rallied and had a great comeback with the save on 13, the birdie on 14 and eagle on 15".
And on an emotional day for him, and Spanish golf in general, Garcia said: "To join Seve and Jose - my two idols - is wonderful".
Garcia clearly took those words to heart, most notably in the final round when on several occasions it looked like the wheels were about to fall off and another major title was about to slip through his grasp.
After his challenge combusted at this tournament five years ago, he said: "I don't have the thing I need to have".
For me, the ultimate sporting event is the Masters, which I had the privilege of covering again for the past week, keeping an eye on Utah's Daniel Summerhays as he played in his first Masters.
"It's more of a facet joint Rose said".
Prior to Sunday's victory he was on the longest run of majors without a win of any active player - the closest he had previously come was a tie for second at the Open (in 2007 and 2014) and the US PGA Championship in 1999 and 2008.
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.
Will Garcia be able to land a second win at Augusta to emulate his compatriots? "He's had his fair share of heartbreak".
"Even after a couple of bogeys I was still positive that there were a lot of holes I could get to". The lead stayed at two shots but not for long. But Rose had fought back with three consecutive birdies to rejoin his playing partner on eight under as they turned into the back nine.
Sergio Garcia, of Spain, reacts at the green jacket ceremony after the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. On 11 he pulled his tee shot into bushes and 3-putted.
South African Charl Schwartzel, Masters champion in 2011, was third on six under with Matt Kuchar fourth, one shot behind.