Sergio Garcia wins Masters in playoff, ends major drought

Jordan Spieth, starting the final round only two shots behind, put another tee shot into the water on No. His 8-iron into the par-5 15th landed inches in front of the hole and nicked the pin, and he holed the 14-foot eagle putt to tie for the lead. Opinion: Kelly: Sergio Garcia’s Masters victory the ultimate act of redemption
Garcia got rid of the demons and the doubts with two big moments on the par 5s – one a par, the other an eagle – in closing with a 3-under 69. He had to birdie three of his last four holes for a 75. Not since 1998 have the last two players on the course gone to the 18th tied for the lead, and both had their chances to win. Sergio Garcia finally showed he has what it takes to win a major, and he has a green jacket to prove it. He hit wedge to 7 feet and escaped with par. 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. Rose was in trouble from the start with an errant tee shot, and Garcia didn’t waste the opportunity. All that Spanish passion was on display, raw as ever, this time sheer joy. No one ever played more majors as a pro – 70 – before winning one for the first time. Ser-gee-oh!” the delirious gallery chanted to Garcia, who couldn’t contain his emotion. Garcia birdied the 14th. Rose rolled his chip down to 5 feet and missed the birdie putt. Garcia answered with a wedge that covered the flag and settled 5 feet away. The playoff didn’t last long. Needing his best golf on just about every shot in the final hour at the Masters, Garcia overcame a two-shot deficit with six holes to play and beat Justin Rose in a sudden-death playoff Sunday for his first major after nearly two decades of heartache. He had to take a penalty shot to get out and hit his third shot 89 yards short of the green. Rose was poised to deliver a knockout on the par-5 13th when Garcia went left beyond the creek and into a bush. “He’s had his fair share of heartbreak.”
This was shaping up as another, especially after Garcia watched a three-shot lead disappear as quickly as it took Rose to run off three straight birdies on the front nine. But right when it looked to be over, momentum shifted to Garcia. Rose, who also closed with a 69, lovingly patted Garcia’s cheek before they embraced. Rose took the lead with an 8-foot birdie on the 16th and gave it back by missing a 7-foot par putt on the 18th. The lead stayed at two shots but not for long. This was his third time playing in the final group. He deserves it,” Rose said. Garcia became the third Spaniard in a green jacket, winning on what would have been the 60th birthday of the late Seve Ballesteros. “Ser-gee-oh! His chin was up and he battled to the end. Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., in his first Masters, finished in a tie for 36th place. He crouched in disbelief, and shouted above the loudest roar of the day. Everyone figured this was coming, right? Rose’s approach hit off the side of the bunker and kicked onto the green, stopping 7 feet away. Rose was just over the back of the green in two, on the verge of turning a two-shot lead into four. Matt Kuchar made a hole-in-one on the 16th that gave him hope but not for very long. “If there’s anyone to lose to, it’s Sergio. Garcia 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. Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel birdied the 18th for a 68 to finish third. 12 long after it mattered. Both missed. All that mattered was Garcia and Rose, who delivered a final hour as compelling as any at Augusta National. He tied for fourth with Thomas Pieters, who ran off four birdies on the back nine. That gave the 37-year-old Spaniard two putts from 12 feet for the victory, and his putt swirled into the cup for a birdie. Four times he was runner-up. Garcia himself had said, in a moment of self-pity, that he didn’t have what it takes to win a major. 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.”
He didn’t get down after missing a 6-foot putt on the 16th hole, or missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation. Tied going to the back nine, Garcia immediately fell two shots behind with wild shots into the pine straw bed under the trees. Rose then tapped Garcia on the heart, which turned out to be a lot bigger than anyone realized. Also an afterthought was Rickie Fowler, who started one shot behind and shot 76.