They say 74th time’s a charm. Well, they don’t, but they do it’s all about the back nine on Sunday at Augusta.
Sergio Garcia beat Justin Rose in a play-off to win the Masters and his first major title after 73 previous failed attempts.
It was Garcia who got off to the better start with birdies at the first and third holes to open up a two shot gap over Rose. But former the US Open champion would not lie down and clawed the shots back as Garcia dropped shots at 10 and 11.
Garcia found trouble at the par 5 13th but after a drop managed to escape with a crucial par as Rose failed to make birdie.
An eagle at 15 after a brilliant 8-iron approach from Garcia really put the pressure on Rose who calmly rolled his birdie putt in to tie the lead at 10 under par heading into the last three holes.
The Englishman struck first heading towards the clubhouse with a birdie at the 16th but immediately gave the shot back with a bogey at 17.
Stunning approaches from both left each with around eight-foot putts, but both somehow missed right and it was on to a play-off in the rapidly fading light.
So back to the 18th tee it was, and Rose pushed his drive into the trees while Garcia again found the middle of the fairway. Rose was forced to chip out then found the middle of the green with his approach. Garcia likewise.
When Rose’s putt slid by, Garcia had two to win. He only needed one, sinking to his knees, the relief plain for all to see.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 10, 2017
“I knew I was playing well,” Garcia said during the Green Jacket presentation in the Butler Cabin. “I felt the calmest I have ever felt in a major.
“It has been such a long time coming. I am so happy. I felt like this course was probably going to give me one major. That thought changed over the years as I started feeling uncomfortable on the course but I came to peace with it and accepted it.
“To do it on Seve’s 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf, it’s something amazing.
“Jose sent me a text on Wednesday telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do, believe in myself, be calm and not let things get to me as I had in the past.”
Garcia’s win moves him from 11th to seventh in the world rankings.
Elsewhere the chasing pack simply never got close enough to the leaders to apply any pressure on the two at the top.
It was a Masters Sunday to forget for Jordan Spieth. The young Texan never looked comfortable all day and carded a round of 75 to finish in a tie for 11th – including finding the water at 12.
His playing partner, Rickie Fowler, started his round a bit more convincingly but faltered on the back nine to a disappointing round of 76. He also finished in a tie for 11th.
2011 champion Charl Schwartzel finished in solo third place after a final round of 68, and Matt Kuchar’s hole-in-one at the 16 helped him to a 67 and a fourth-place alongside Belgian Thomas Pieters.
Rory McIlroy will have to wait another year for the chance to achieve the career Grand Slam after another up and down week at Augusta. The Northern Irishman finished with a final round 69 to make it another top 10 finish at the Masters.