Sergio finally shakes off dubious tag
The breakthrough win by Sergio Garcia of Spain in the 81st US Masters just before the Holy Week will easily rank among the greatest sports achievements of the year.
Playing in his 74th major, the now 37-year-old Spaniard beat Englishman Justin Rose on the first hole of sudden death playoff at the famed Augusta National Golf Club course in Augusta, Georgia, and finally shook off the dubious tag as a world class golfer who can’t win in the sports’ four elite tournaments.
But while the sports media gushed over the unexpected but well-deserved achievement and its impact and significance, little was mentioned on how Garcia pulled it off on the final day and became the third Spaniard to wear the champion’s Green Jacket after Severiano Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Garcia’s idols both won twice—Ballesteros in 1980 and 1983 and Ozalabal in 1994 and 1999.
Here’s a final and brief account on how Garcia played the round of his life:
With early rounds of 71-69-70, Garcia was tied for the 54-hole lead at 6-under 210 with Rose, the 2013 US Open winner and reigning Olympic champion, who shot the third round’s low score of 5-under 67 after a 71 and 72.
Starting hot, Garcia birdied the first and third holes then went on top by three strokes as Rose bogeyed No 5.
But Rose, a head taller than the 5-foot-10 Garcia, birdied 6, 7 and 8 to send both players tied for the lead anew going to the final nine holes at 8-under.
It was a two-horse race from there.
In a sudden change of form, Garcia drove into the trees on the 10th and 11th holes for bogeys to trail Rose by two and looked ready to drop at least another stroke when he found himself in an unplayable lie in a lateral hazard with another wayward tee shot on the par-5 13th hole.
But after a penalty drop, Garcia survived the impending disaster with a deft approach and a gutsy putt to save par.
Garcia birdied No. 14 to move within one off Rose then came up with three superb strokes for an eagle three on No. 15 to forge another deadlock for first with Rose, who birdied the hole after five straight pars from No. 10.
Both had short birdie putts on the par-16th, but it was Rose who scored to regain the lead only to return the stroke on the 17th which he bogeyed from the trap after missing the fairway.
Garcia seemed to have it all wrapped up with a five-footer for birdie on the 18th after Rose had missed from seven feet, but he blew his putt to set the stage for the second sudden death playoff since Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera of Argentina to become the first Australian to rule the event in 2013.
It was all Garcia in the first playoff hole on the 18th, however. Rose drove into the trees again and had to play out. Garcia was on in two some 12 feet away with Rose a little bit farther back after his third shot.
After Rose two-putted for bogey, Garcia capped his epic triumph by sending his putt curling into the hole for birdie.
The US Open, golf’s second major, will be played in June followed by the British Open in July and the US PGA in August.
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