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Emotional Garcia finally claims a major

Sergio Garcia slips on the green jacket after winning the 2017 Masters (Photo: Getty Images)
It may go down as one of the most emotional Masters victories in history, the mercurial Spaniard Sergio Garcia finally claiming the maiden major title which has been expected of him for almost 20 years.

The 37-year-old birdied the first hole of sudden death at Augusta National to beat England’s Justin Rose after the pair finished regulation play tied at 9-under-par.

Garcia has been among the world’s elite players for almost two decades since he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 1999 US PGA as a 19-year-old.

But despite several close calls, particularly at The Open Championship, and many brilliant performances at the Ryder Cup, it seemed a Grand Slam title may elude him.

Garcia, however, put those demons to rest this week with a performance many long term watchers felt he no longer had in him.

A new found peace away from the course stood him in good stead as he fought back from adversity in the final round and slipped on the green jacket on what would have been the 60th birthday of the legendary late Spaniard, Seve Ballesteros.

“It’s amazing,” he told Jim Nantz at the green jacket presentation inside Butler Cabin.

“To do it on his 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf my whole life..

“It’s something amazing.”

Garcia, who began the day sharing the lead with Rose but quickly jumped to a three shot lead through five holes, said he received an inspirational text from two-time winner and countryman Jose Maria Olazabal before the tournament started.

“Jose sent me a text on Wednesday night telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do,” he said,

“And just pretty much believe in myself and being calm and not letting things get to me that I’ve done in the past.”

And that’s precisely what Garcia did. He went to the turn After starting hot with birdies at the first two holes and tied with Rose but lost the momentum with some poor play at the 10th.

A sub standard tee shot and a wild approach to an almost impossible position high and right above the green, led to a bogey and he lost the lead for the first time.

He then fell two behind with another dropped shot caused by a poor tee shot at the next and Rose looked in total control of the tournament.

But the momentum shifted back in Garcia’s favour at the par-5 13th when he made a miraculous par after being forced to take a drop when he hit another poor tee shot.

Rose, who hit through the green in two shots, also made a par and what looked likely to be a four shot lead instead remained two and the game was on.

Garcia hit a brilliant approach at the 14th to close the gap to one then the highlight of the day came at the par-5 next when hit an 8-iron second shot to 12 feet and drained the eagle putt.

Tied with three to play then swapped the lead at the next two, Rose going birdie-bogey while Garcia made a pair of pars and both missed makeable birdie chances at the last to send it to extra time.

With the pressure at its most intense it was Rose who blinked, carving his tee shot way into the trees right of the 18th fairway and only able to pitch out.

Garcia hit a regulation tee shot then a fabulous approach within 12 feet and when Rose failed to make his par he had two putts for the win.

That he took only one was no surprise in a week that as otherwise full of them.

Among the biggest was the play of American duo Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth on the final day after the pair began within touching distance of the lead but faltered with scores of 76 and 75 respectively.

2011 champion Charl Schwartzel finished outright third at 6-under and three behind, Matt Kuchar and impressive Belgian Masters rookie Thomas Pieters sharing fourth at 5-under.

Paul Casey was outright sixth at 4-under while Kevin Chappell and Rory McIlroy shared seventh at 3-under.


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