Sergio Garcia took Green Jacket at the 81st Augusta Masters on Sunday to maintain the legacy of countrymen Seve Ballesteros on his 60th birth anniversary, and Jose Maria Olazabal, who like Seve won twice.
On a day the stars all pointed towards Garcia, the emotional Spaniard was forced to take a tense route as Olympic champion Justin Rose made him work hard for his first Major win in 74 appearances.
As Garcia and Rose made it a two-horse derby, others like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, early leader Charley Hoffman, Rory McIlroy were all reduced to a supporting cast. The day also had an ace from Matt Kuchar, who ended fourth, one place behind 2011 winner, Charl Schwartzel.
In the end, when he needed two putts after Rose missed his putt for par. Garcia had a birdie from 10 feet and the ball circled the lip as it were and then dropped to spark of an emotional display by the winner.
The 37-year-old Spaniard started the day in a tie with Rose, went three clear by the fifth, was pulled back to level on the eighth and then fell two behind by the 11th.
Later, an emotional Garcia said, “I have seen (myself) winning it several time. When I came here in 1999 as an amateur, I felt like this golf course was probably going to give me at least one Major. I won’t lie, that thought changed, I became uncomfortable with the course.
“But I made peace with it, I accepted what Augusta gives and takes and it brought me here.” Garcia’s crucial moment came with his par on 13, where he cut his drive but made two beauties and a clutch putt to make par. He birdied 14 and eagled 15 from 15 feet. Rose did birdie 15, but both were now level again. However, the momentum changed here.
Into the play-off, again on the 18th, Rose went into the pines and had to punch out as Garcia reached the green in two. Rose came to the green in three and when he missed his par putt, Garcia had two putts for a win, but he needed just one.
The monkey was finally off Garcia’s back and he was a Masters champion; a major champion after 22 Top-10s in 73 major starts. The winning putt prompted emotional scenes on the 18th green with Garcia dropping to his knees before embracing his fiancée, Angela, and then heading to the Butler Cabin to be presented with the Green Jacket by fellow European Tour member Danny Willett.
“I knew I was playing well. I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a Major Sunday and even after making a couple of bogeys I was still very positive, and hit some really good shots coming in and I’m so happy.”