Spa­niard Gar­cia wins Masters for first ma­jor in long ca­reer.

Gar­cia wins Masters on play­off for first ma­jor ti­tle in two decades as pro

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

AU­GUSTA, GA. | Ser­gio Gar­cia fi­nally showed he has what it takes to win a ma­jor, and he has a green jacket to prove it.

Need­ing his best golf on just about ev­ery shot in the fi­nal hour at the Masters, Gar­cia over­came a two-shot deficit with six holes to play and beat Justin Rose in a sud­den-death play­off Sun­day for his first ma­jor af­ter nearly two decades of heartache.

No one ever played more ma­jors as a pro — 70 — be­fore win­ning one for the first time.

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, and shouted above the loud­est roar of the day.

Rose, who also closed with a 69, lov­ingly 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 to Gar­cia, who couldn’t con­tain his emo­tion.

Gar­cia turned with his arms to his side, blew a kiss to the crowd 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.

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, or miss­ing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in reg­u­la­tion.

His chin was up and he bat­tled to the end.

“If there’s any­one to lose to, it’s Ser­gio. He de­serves it,” Rose said. “He’s 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.

Tied go­ing to the back nine, Gar­cia im­me­di­ately fell two shots be­hind with wild shots into the pine straw bed un­der the trees. Rose was poised to de­liver a knock­out on the par-5 13th when Gar­cia went left be­yond the creek and into a bush. He had to take a penalty shot to get out and hit his third shot 89 yards short of the green. Rose was just over the back of the green in two, on the verge of turn­ing a two-shot lead into four.

Every­one fig­ured this was com­ing, right? Gar­cia him­self had said, in a mo­ment of self-pity, that he didn’t have what it takes to win a ma­jor. Four times he was runner-up. This was his third time play­ing in the fi­nal group.

But right when it looked to be over, mo­men­tum shifted to Gar­cia.

He hit wedge to 7 feet and es­caped with par. Rose rolled his chip down to 5 feet and missed the birdie putt. The lead stayed at two shots but not for long. Gar­cia birdied the 14th. His 8-iron into the par-5 15th landed inches in front of the hole and nicked the pin, and he holed the 14-foot ea­gle putt to tie for the lead.

Rose took the lead with an 8-foot birdie on the 16th and gave it back by miss­ing a 7-foot par putt on the 18th.

Not since 1998 have the last two play­ers on the course gone to the 18th tied for the lead, and both had their chances to win. Rose’s ap­proach hit off the side of the bunker and kicked onto the green, stop­ping 7 feet away. Gar­cia an­swered with a wedge that cov­ered the flag and set­tled 5 feet away. Both missed.

The play­off didn’t last long. Rose was in trou­ble from the start with an er­rant tee shot, and Gar­cia didn’t waste the op­por­tu­nity.

For­mer Masters cham­pion Charl Schwartzel birdied the 18th for a 68 to fin­ish third. Matt Kuchar made a holein-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.

All that mat­tered was Gar­cia and Rose, who de­liv­ered a fi­nal hour as com­pelling as any at Au­gusta Na­tional.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Ser­gio Gar­cia pauses af­ter mak­ing his birdie putt on the 18th green to win the Masters af­ter a play­off on Sun­day in Au­gusta, Ge­or­gia.

Ser­gio Gar­cia lets out a scream af­ter win­ning the Masters on Sun­day. No one ever played more ma­jors as a pro­fes­sional — 70 — be­fore win­ning one for the first time as Gar­cia did on Sun­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Justin Rose con­grat­u­lates winner Ser­gio Gar­cia on the 18th hole af­ter a play­off on Sun­day at the Masters in Au­gusta, Ge­or­gia.

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