Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Garcia wins 1st major title at the Masters

Garcia wins 1st major title at the Masters

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler were supposed to lead the American charge in the final round of the Masters but the United States pair fluffed their lines while Sergio Garcia delivered a storybook ending to the first major of the year.

Garcia had the best chance to win on the 18th when he missed a putt from close range, as Rose had already missed from an earlier distance.

Asked about shedding the label as the best player without a major, Garcia replied: "The way I looked at it, at least "best player" was there". I felt today the calmest I have ever felt on a major Sunday. "I feel like if he misses at that point, I make, I'm four clear".

And he did it by emulating 1994 and 1999 champion Jose-Maria Olazabal, the last player before him to eagle the 15th on the final day en route to victory.

"To join my two idols is something special".

He did both when a major moment arrived on the 13th when his drive wound up under a bush. Instead, they do get a trophy, a replica one at that.

But a key to the match was what happened over the next 10 minutes: Garcia punched his third shot down in front of the green, then coldly got up and down for par, the save of his life. Three pars got him to the playoff and he needed just three shots to complete his Spanish conquest. Charl Schwartzel, the South African who won here in 2011, with a bomb of a birdie putt at the 18th to finish off a 68 that got him to 6 under.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, paired in the penultimate group, fell all the way down into a tie for 11th.

But as years passed and the majors weren't won, Garcia gained a reputation as a complainer, someone who found excuses for everything that didn't go his way.

Rory McIlroy never got untracked until late in the final round and shot 69 to finish in a tie for seventh; his pursuit of the career grand slam still ongoing. He tied for fourth with Thomas Pieters, who ran off four birdies on the back nine. "There's wonderful storylines", Rose said. The 2013 U.S. Open champion made birdie on the 16th to regain the lead but missed an 8-footer for par on the 17th that hurt.

Lots of guys are going for "crazy good" numbers Sunday. It was a good battle with Sergio.

"Lately I've gotten some good help and have been thinking a little bit more positive", he said. "I feel motivated for the summer, and I will be moving on and setting goals very quickly after this". Garcia made his, Rose missed and what could have been the deciding blow turned out to be a draw. Of course I could.

"In the past, I would have started going at my caddie, 'Why doesn't it go through?' and whatever", Garcia said.

"I've been hitting that drive every day like a high cut".

"And barring a great comeback from Sergio, it was mine to cruise to the house. I think it makes it a poignant major championship". "When you come to Augusta National, that's the putt you practice", said Rose.

Garcia pulled within a shot of Rose when he birdied 14.

The one thing everyone else focused on were his sad-sack results in golf's big events until that last putt rattled at the bottom of the cup: 0 for 70 in his pro career. "I came to peace with it the last 3-4 years".

After slipping on a green jacket, the new Masters champion said, "It's been such a long time coming". Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic two months ago. Garcia is a longtime star but still seeking his first major championship. But his attitude was the 15th club.

"Under the gun, with the pressure, it's not that easy to do", Garcia said. "It's not going to be a disaster", Garcia said.

"So I think that that I've been doing very well throughout the whole week, and it's something I need to keep improving and keep getting better at it".

It didn't matter. Garcia curled in a 12-foot birdie that gave him the green jacket.

"I know that anything can happen", he said with a laugh.

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