Augusta: Spain’s Sergio Garcia captured his first major golf title on Sunday after 73 failed attempts, making a birdie on the first playoff hole to defeat Justin Rose and win the 81st Masters.
The 37-year-old Spaniard achieved the greatest triumph of his career on what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, two-time Masters champion and three-time British Open winner Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54.
Garcia and England’s Rose, the 2016 Rio Olympic champion and 2013 US Open winner, were deadlocked on nine-under par 279 after 72 holes.
Rose’s playoff tee shot soared to the right into the trees but bounced out onto pine straw near the fairway while Garcia found the fairway.
Rose could only punch out under tree limbs onto the fairway and scramble to make a bogey while Garcia put his approach 15 feet from the hole and, needing only two putts to win, rolled a birdie putt around the edge of the cup and in for the emotional victory, fist pumping and even punching the green in delight.
Deadlocked at nine-under par as they reached the 72nd regulation tournament hole, both drove into the fairway. Rose rolled his approach off a slope to eight feet from the cup, only to see Garcia land his approach five feet from the pin.
Rose missed his birdie putt and tapped in for par, leaving Garcia to putt for his first major title. But he missed to the right of the cup, then tapped in to force the playoff.
It was the first major playoff for Rose while Garcia had lost his only prior major playoff to Ireland’s Padraig Harrington in the 2007 British Open. --AFP