Garcia takes major title at last with Masters win

They went to sudden death where Garcia birdied the first hole - No. 18 on the course - for his first major championship in 74 starts.

Garcia took his emotional, long-sought triumph over England's Rose, the 2016 Rio Olympic champion and 2013 US Open victor, after they finished deadlocked on nine-under par 279 for 72 holes at Augusta National. He certainly believes the best is yet to come.

Garcia said he was even more delighted to have won on the day the legendary Ballesteros - the victor of five major titles - would have celebrated turning 60.

The one thing that separates the Masters Tournament from most of the other major events in sports is its permanence. "And I'm excited for those". On another visit to Scotland as an amateur, the player known as "El Nino" was dubbed "El Duffo' by one tabloid newspaper for a poor display, but he's certainly ended up having the last laugh over the author of that particular headline".

But multiple majors were predicted for him when he burst on the American scene as an ebullient 19-year-old wunderkind at the 1999 PGA Championship, trying to chase down Tiger Woods.

Garcia began Sunday on level terms with friend and playing partner Rose, but he wasted little time in opening up a two-shot lead as the chasing pack failed to put together a run of birdies. "If you have a look at it you can see the ball move just a little bit".

A year later, Harrington rallied from three down to Garcia on the back nine and beat him at Oakland Hills in the PGA Championship. But it could have all gone so wrong for the Spaniard when he took a penalty drop from the bushes at the par-5 13th. A birdie at the next was another timely boost. The last time he had a putt to win a major was at Carnoustie in 2007.

After starting the day just three shots back of co-leaders Garcia and Rose and one ahead of Schwartzel, Scott was unable to get it going on Sunday, with four bogeys overshadowing his three birdies.

He also tied for second when Rory McIlroy won the Open at Royal Liverpool three years ago, and has finished in the top 10 at the tournament 10 times in 20 appearances. Thanks to fiancee Angela Akins - the pair are due to get married this summer - he has a new-found inner calmness. Garcia, though, added another when it mattered in the play-off. "I am so happy", said Garcia, 37.

"It's incredible. It's something I always hoped I would achieve but I didn't know if I was going to do it", he said. I feel good here. "So it did cross my mind", he admitted.

Turning serious, Garcia said, "Because where my head was at sometimes, I did think, 'Am I ever going to win one?"

"But after what happened at the start of the back nine for Sergio I thought: 'Oh no, here it goes again".

  • Julie Sanders