Garcia earns first major title

There was that time at Bethpage Black in the 2002 U.S. Open when he complained about having to play in the rain, suggesting the USGA would have stopped play if Woods had been on the course. That's the title bestowed annually upon the victor of the British Open.

"It's better late than never". Not so much. That is rather like being the fifth man picked for a four-man bobsled team. But if you're in need of some motivation, look no farther than Sergio Garcia.

His 151 included 14 on the first hole.

But it never happened.

But the Olympic champion sees no reason why he can not challenge for a green jacket again and is already turning his focus to the next three majors, with the U.S. Open at Erin Hills just over two months away. And who could blame him for the lack of confidence?

Garcia and Rose both carded 69 to finish tied on nine-under-par 279 at the end of regulation and send the year's first major to a playoff when both missed birdie putts and settled for pars at the 72nd hole at the August National.

Garcia hit the ball from the base of a tree and over a small hill onto the putting green.

Rose took back sole possession of the lead with a birdie on the 16th but gave it up again by missing a seven-foot par putt on the 18th.

Rose was two shots ahead when Garcia bogeyed the 10th and 11th, but on what would have been the 60th birthday of Seve Ballesteros, his fellow Spaniard Garcia crucially saved par after an errant drive and penalty shot on the 13th. That seemed to be all she wrote for the Spaniard.

Five feet away from winning, his birdie putt peeled off to the right.

Garcia came close to winning the Open at Carnoustie in 2007 when he held a four-shot lead on the final day only to drop shots and then lose a play-off for the Claret Jug with Ireland's Padraig Harrington. He reached the 18th green and stood over a 5-foot putt for the victory. He said when he hit crisp, high arcing shots often they landed a yard or two into the rough, making it hard to navigate the subsequent approach.

Prior to beating out England's Justin Rose in a sudden-death playoff after a thrilling final round, Garcia had been known for a series of near-misses at major championships.

Indeed, everywhere Garcia walked at Hazeltine, he heard chants from the home crowd reminding him of his failure to win a major.

He revealed he had identified the Masters as his most likely chance of a major after he tied for 38th and was the leading amateur in 1999, the year Olazabal won for the second time.

"We've played a lot of golf together since we were about 14 years old", he said.

The 2017 Masters marked his 74th major appearance.

The final-round battle for the green jacket between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose at Augusta National Golf Club last week turned out to be a real humdinger.

  • Julie Sanders