Sergio Garcia wins exciting breathtaking first epic


Sergio Garcia has won the first major championship of his career with a dramatic, sudden-death victory over Justin Rose at the Masters. Garcia and Rose had been butting heads since they were teenage stars in Europe some 20 years ago, and after the Spaniard pulled even with an eagle two holes later, this duel was extended to a playoff.

Rose hit a good putt but read just too much break into it and watched his ball slide past the right edge, and Garcia did exactly the same, sending them into the first Masters play-off since Adam Scott pipped Angel Cabrera in 2013.

Garcia won on what would have been the 60th birthday of Ballesteros, a date seemingly destined for great things from him.

Second, in his 74th major event, he was about to win one for the first time.

The Northern Irish golfer has four majors to his name, but lusts after the Masters, a tournament which he came so close to conquering in 2011, but which instead conquered him.

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. As a victor of 31 worldwide events, with four runner-up finishes and 21 top-10s in majors, and his role as a European Ryder Cup stalwart, he's often found atop subjective lists of "best players without a major".

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.

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Two early birdies and a bogey from Rose briefly gave Garcia a three-shot lead in the final round, only for Rose to respond with a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth. "It's incredible to do it on Seve's 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf", Garcia said.

"I hit good third and fourth shots and I needed to because I knew I could do what I did on 14 and 15", Garcia said. But Garcia produced a sensational response, clipping a 142-yard short-iron straight at the flag and leaving himself less than six feet for birdie.

"Like I said when I finished Augusta, we're not done yet", Garcia said. "It definitely helps", he said.

Sergio Garcia stands on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York Monday, a day after winning the 2017 Masters. "I've been reminded probably 300 times that I haven't won a major this week".

Down the years I've been fortunate to interview the new, richly deserved Masters champion numerous times with the first occasion being just before the Open Championship at Royal Lytham in 1996. Obviously, this is something I wanted to do for a long time, but it never felt like a horror movie. "In the past, I would have, I would have started going, you know, at my caddie, and oh, you know, why doesn't it go through and whatever", Garcia said, laughing.

Garcia (71-69-70-69) and Rose (71-72-67-69) were the only golfers to play all four rounds this week at par or under. "That putt really turned the clock a little bit for me".