Sergio García willed two decades of major championship anguish into total jubilation Sunday at Augusta National.
The 37-year-old Spaniard finally crossed the sacred milestone off his list with a spectacular win over Justin Rose on the first playoff hole of the Masters.
Masters 2017: Sergio Garcia | 1st Hole, Playoff pic.twitter.com/lpJP1F3SVd
— Masters Highlights (@MastersMoments) April 10, 2017
García rolled a left-to-right curler out of sight his second trip up No. 18 in front of an vast sea of gleeful patrons. On what would be two-time green jacket winner Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday, García made his beloved countryman proud by slipping on his own. He joins José María Olazábal, another two-time Masters champ, as only the third Spanish golfer to accomplish the feat.
“José sent me a text on Wednesday night, telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do,” García said in Butler Cabin afterward.
With the tournament on the line and his good friend Rose sitting safe just off the 15th green in two, García channeled the spirit of his mentors, kissing the pin from 192 yards out to set up the first final-round eagle on the hole since Olazabal in 1994. García’s first eagle in 425 holes at the Masters couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I probably hit one of the best eight irons I’ve ever hit,” García said of the shot.
Masters 2017: Sergio Garcia | 15th Hole, Round 4 pic.twitter.com/OJ2aTFlxw4
— Masters Highlights (@MastersMoments) April 9, 2017
“When I came here in ’99 as an amateur, I felt like like this course was probably gonna give me at least one major. I’m not gonna lie, that thought kinda changed a little bit through the years because I started feeling uncomfortable on the course, but I kinda became at peace with it…I accepted what Augusta gives and takes, and I think because of that I’m able to stand here today.”
García got out to a fast start Sunday afternoon with two birdies in the first three holes. He rode a 5-under performance during that stretch this week to an eventual 9-under 279.
The 13th hole also treated García well, as his second shot barely stayed dry on the bank of Rae’s Creek. He rallied for a clutch up-and-down from the hazard to make a birdie. On Sunday, García scrambled once more, this time from the trees, to save par and his tournament hopes. “Today, I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a major Sunday,” he added.
In his 74th career major start, García earned Masters glory after experiencing frustration his first 17 starts in Augusta and a playoff loss to Padraig Harrington at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie.
García once famously proclaimed, “I don’t have it, I don’t have the thing I need to have” at the 2012 Masters, lamenting whether he would ever add a major to his trophy case. Sunday, it was different. Sunday, Sergio seized his slice of golfing greatness.
Here’s hoping paella makes an appearance on the menu García crafts for next year’s Champions Dinner.