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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press photos Sergio Garcia shows the emotion that has defined his career after making his birdie putt on the 18th green to win the Masters in a playoff with Justin Rose on Sunday in Augusta, Ga.

  • Danny Willett, 2016 Masters champion, places the green jacket on Garcia on Sunday.

Monday, April 10, 2017 1:00 am

The Masters

Garcia gets first major

Masters champion able to control emotions that had always hurt him

Doug Ferguson | Associated Press

Leader board

Final round

Augusta National Golf Club

Par: 72 (36-36)

x-Sergio Garcia 71-69-70-69–279

Justin Rose 71-72-67-69–279

Charl Schwartzel 74-72-68-68–282

Matt Kuchar 72-73-71-67–283

Thomas Pieters 72-68-75-68–283

x – won on first playoff hole

Key hole Hole: 18 Yardage: 465 Par: 4 Stroke average: 4.151 Rank: 5 Key fact: Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose both had a chance to win the green jacket on the 72nd hole, but Rose missed a 7-foot birdie attempt and Garcia rolled a 5-footer past the cup. They played the hole again in sudden death, but Rose's errant drive off the tee, which wound up behind a giant magnolia tree right of the fairway, effectively sealed the playoff. Rose missed a par-saving putt, and it didn't matter anyway when Garcia made birdie.

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 bounced off a tree and into an azalea bush, the kind of bad luck he had come to expect in the majors. Instead of pouting, he figured out how to make par.

Five feet away from winning, his birdie putt peeled off to the right. Usually resigned to fail, Garcia proved to be more resilient than ever.

He was a new man with a new title: Masters champion.

Major champion.

“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. He overcame a two-shot deficit against Justin Rose and won on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

No one ever played more majors as a pro (74) before winning one.

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. 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 the 37-year-old Spaniard two putts from 12 feet for the victory, and his putt swirled into the cup for a birdie.

He crouched in 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. Rose then tapped Garcia on the heart, which turned out to be a lot bigger than anyone realized.

“Ser-gee-oh! Ser-gee-oh!” the delirious gallery chanted. He turned, blew a kiss and then crouched again and slammed his fist into the turf of the green.

All that Spanish passion was on display, raw as ever, this time sheer joy.

“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.”

He didn't get down after missing a 6-foot putt on the 16th hole to fall out of the lead, or missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have won in regulation.

His chin was up. He battled to the end.

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.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel birdied the 18th for a 68 to finish third. Matt Kuchar made a hole-in-one on the 16th that gave him hope but not for very long. He tied for fourth with Thomas Pieters, who ran off four birdies on the back nine.

Jordan Spieth, starting the final round only two shots behind, put another tee shot into the water on No. 12 long after it mattered. He had to birdie three of his last four holes for a 75. Also an afterthought was Rickie Fowler, who started one shot behind and shot 76.