Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Sergio Garcia sees success beyond Masters

6 near-misses that made Sergio Garcia's Masters win so much sweeter 6 near-misses that made Sergio Garcia's Masters win so much sweeter
Kristopher Love | 21 April, 2017, 20:09

Instead of pouting, he figured out how to make par. But he thrilled the gallery, which was solidly behind him all afternoon, by draining the birdie putt for a two-shot win. Usually resigned to fail, Garcia proved to be more resilient than ever.

Olazabal sent Garcia a message on the eve of the tournament with words of advice and encouragement, as well as a special request for some company in the small Champions' Locker Room at Augusta.

"I know my game and if I feel comfortable I can win any week and that includes the Majors".

More broadly, Garcia won his first major in his 74th major appearance.

Sergio Garcia bested him on the first playoff hole, the 18th, with a birdie to Rose's bogey, earning him his first major in the process.

Fowler started the final round one shot behind co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, his best position ever going into the final round at a major. 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. He clenched both fists and shook them repeatedly.

But it was Garcia, so often golf's almost man, who finally ended his major drought in the play-off.

"A lot of things were going on through my mind", added the Ryder Cup stalwart.

"Justin wasn't making it easy".

The LPGA Tour said the new tournament, to be played at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis, will be September 7-9, ending on a Saturday.

Ballesteros, who died in 2011 at age 54 of brain cancer, and Jose Maria Olazabal each won the Masters champion green jacket twice and were the event's only Spanish champions until Garcia's breakthrough.

He carried that attitude all the way to the 18th and when he missed a 5-footer that would've given him a win in regulation, he simply redoubled his effort. He battled to the end. "If there was anyone to lose to it would be Sergio".

"Sergio often feels like he's not supported the way he would like to be here in America", said the vanquished Rose. He has 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.

Rose was poised to deliver a knockout on the par-5 13th when Garcia went left beyond the creek and into the bush. The duo was tied again when Garcia parred and Rose bogeyed the par-4 17th after hitting his approach shot into the bunker short of the green.

With no clear view of the green, Rose had to punch out.

Everyone figured this was coming, right?

"They are my idols my whole life", said Garcia, who was born the year the late Ballesteros won his first of two Masters in 1980.

Spieth, who had birdies on three of his last four holes, was just happy to finish under par. Spieth moved back into contention with a 68 Saturday, but he promised to play aggressively and promptly tumbled back down the leaderboard and finished tied for 11th with a final-round 75. But right when it looked to be over, momentum shifted to Garcia. Not enough of a kick, however, and he could only bunt the ball down the fairway and then wedge to 15 feet.

Never one to shy away from showing his emotions, Garcia victory celebration was typical of his character.

One thing about that label over the years: It can be seen as a compliment ("At least 'best player, ' there's something good there", Garcia said).