Sergio Garcia has won the US Masters at the first playoff hole in Augusta. The Spaniard has finally landed his first major title.
Garcia nudged out England's Justin Rose, who also finished on nine under par at the end of the fourth round on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. Garcia birdied the first playoff hole and Rose made bogey, after his tee shot bounced out onto pine straw near the fairway while Garcia found the fairway.
"It’s been such a long time coming," Garcia said after the win. "I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a major Sunday today. Even after making bogey I was positive, I still believed. I hit some good shots, and I’m so happy.”
The two had started on Sunday as co-leaders, before Garcia took a three-stroke lead after five holes. Rose then came back with three straight birdies starting on the sixth. Garcia bogeyed the first two holes on the back nine, but got back within one stroke with a birdie on the 14th. Rose birdied the 16th, but on the 17th he bogeyed after Garcia had missed an easy birdie putt. They both missed birdie putts on the 18th to finish 72 holes at 9-under.
Garcia's win comes after 73 failed attempts to win the 81st Masters on his 37th birthday and what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, two-time Masters champion and three-time (British) Open winner Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54.
Garcia has won over 20 international tournaments and has spent much of his career in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, reaching a career high ranking of second in 2008.
He has finished a runner-up on four occasions, twice at the (British) Open and twice at the PGA Championship, with a further six top five finishes without breaking through.
This was the first major playoff for Rose while Garcia had lost his only prior major playoff to Ireland's Padraig Harrington in the 2007 Open.
jbh/kl (Reuters, AP, AFP)