Sergio Garcia finally showed he has what it takes to win a major golf tournament, and he has a green jacket to prove it. He overcame a two-shot deficit with six holes to play in the Masters and beat Justin Rose in a sudden-death playoff Sunday.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sergio Garcia tugged the lapel of his green jacket with both hands, proud of his prize and how he earned it.
His hopes were fading Sunday in the Masters — two shots behind with six holes to play — when his tee shot on No. 13 bounced off a tree and into an azalea bush, the kind of bad luck the 37-year-old golfer from Spain had come to expect in major tournaments. Instead of pouting, he figured out how to make par.
Five feet away from winning in regulation, his birdie putt on the 18th green at Augusta National peeled off to the right. Usually resigned to fail, Garcia proved to be more resilient than ever.
He became a new man with a new title: Masters champion.
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“It’s been an amazing week,” Garcia said, “and I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”
After nearly two decades of heartache in the tournaments that define careers, Garcia finally showed the mettle to win a major title. He beat Justin Rose on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
No one ever played more majors as a pro (70) before winning one for the first time.
Garcia got rid of the demons and the doubts with two big moments on the par-5 holes — one a par, the other an eagle — in closing with a 3-under 69.
It was never easy until the end, when Rose sent his drive into the trees on the 18th hole in the playoff, punched out and failed to save par from 15 feet.
That gave Garcia two putts from 12 feet to secure the victory, and his first one swirled into the cup for a birdie.
He crouched in apparent disbelief, both fists clenched and shaking, and he shouted above the loudest roar of the day.
Rose, who also closed with a 69, graciously patted Garcia’s cheek before they embraced. The Englishman then tapped Garcia on the heart, which turned out to be a lot bigger than many realized.
“Ser-gee-oh! Ser-gee-oh!” the delirious gallery chanted to Garcia, who earned $1.98 million. He turned with his arms to his side, blew a kiss to the crowd and then crouched again and slammed his fist into the turf of the green.
“Justin wasn’t making it easy. He was playing extremely well,” Garcia said. “But I knew what I was capable of doing, and I believed that I could do it.”
Garcia became the third Spaniard in a green jacket, winning on what would have been the 60th birthday of the late Seve Ballesteros. And it was Jose Maria Olazabal, who won the Masters in 1994 and 1999, who sent him a text on the eve of the Masters telling Garcia to believe and “to not let things get to me like I’ve done in the past.”
Garcia didn’t get down after missing a 6-foot…