Sergio beats Rose in Masters playoff

Right when another major seemed to be slipping away from Sergio Garcia, he showed a steely grit some were not sure he possessed.

The 37-year-old Garcia capped a roller coaster final day by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Justin Rose of England and finally captured his first major title in the 81st Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

Garcia became the third Spaniard to claim the Green Jacket, putting his name alongside his idols the late Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, and perhaps it was karma because it came on what would have been Ballesteros’ 60th birthday.

“It’s amazing to do it on his birthday,” said Garcia, who finished in the top 10 on 22 occasions in 73 majors before finally winning. “I’m joining my two idols, him and Olazabal. Jose texted me on Wednesday and told me how much he believed in me, to keep calm and don’t let things get to me like in the past.

“It was a long time coming. I played well today and even when I made a couple bogeys, I stayed confident and kept hitting good shots. I never felt so calm on a major championship Sunday.”

Ryder Cup teammates Rose and Garcia, who were tied for the 54-hole lead after both recorded 3-under-par 69s and finished at 9-under 279.

Garcia birdied two of the first three holes and held a three-stroke lead on the front nine, but Rose carded three birdies in a row through No. 8 and took a two-stroke lead after Sergio made bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes.

However, Garcia made a remarkable par save after taking a penalty stroke following an errant drive on No. 13 and went birdie-eagle on the next two holes. Rose stayed ahead with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes, but they were even after he took a bogey on No. 17.

Both missed birdie putts on the final hole of regulation, Rose from 10 feet and Garcia from five, but the Englishman opened the door by driving into the trees on the playoff hole and made a bogey.

Garcia had two putts to win, but need only one.

“I’m disappointed, it’s pretty simple, but a lot of good things happened today,” said Rose, whose only major title came in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. “It was a great battle we had today. It was almost like match play, just the two of us.

“If anyone deserves a major, it’s Sergio. He’s had his heart broken so many times. I thought I had control around the turn and needed only one or two more putts to go in. But then he hit great shots at 13-14-15 to get back in it.

“But I feel comfortable here and I believe this is a tournament I’m going to win someday.”

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, the 2011 Masters champion, made four birdies on the back nine in a second straight 68 that left him three strokes back in solo third.

Matt Kuchar aced the 16th hole after making three straight birdies on the back nine in a 67 and was four back in a tie for fourth with Masters rookie Thomas Pieters of Belgium, who made four straight birdies through No. 15 in a 68.

Paul Casey of England birdied the 18th hole for a 68 that left him another shot behind in solo sixth, while Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, needing a victory to complete the Career Grand Slam, shot 69 and was six down in a tie for seventh with Kevin Chappell of Fresno and UCLA, who totaled 68.

Adam Scott of Australia, the 2013 Masters champion, carded two late bogeys in a 73 and was another shot back in a tie for ninth with Ryan Moore, who struggled to a 74.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion who was trying to overcome blowing a five-stroke lead in the final round last year to tie for second, hit the ball into Rae’s Creek on the 12th hole for the second straight year and closed with a 75 to wind up in a tie for 11th that included Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, who stumbled to a 75.

There-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson posted a 72 to finish in a tie for 22nd that included third-ranked Jason Day of Australia, who carded a 71.

Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach and USC finished shot 73 and finished as low amateur in a tie for 36th.


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