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NEWS: García Wins The Masters

In his 74th major start, Sergio Garcia finally broke through. (Photo Credit: Brian Snyder, Reuters)

The fact that someone had to lose was a crying shame. But the wait is finally over. After 73 heartbreaking, frustrating, maddening, emotional major championship starts, Sergio García is finally a champion, defeating Justin Rose on the first hole of sudden death at Augusta National, curling a 10-foot birdie putt into the left edge on 18 and letting out a primal scream to exorcise all the near misses.

At the beginning of the final day, most people didn’t expect the back nine of this Masters Sunday to be a two-man race. The leaderboard was too rich, too full. Rose, García, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy: This finale had the potential to rival 1975 with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller and Hubert Green.

All those hopes bled away with each missed green, failed rescue and grim three-putt that seemed to radiate through all the late pairings except the last. That’s when Rose and García separated themselves.

García jumped to a three-shot lead through five holes with birdies at Nos. 1 and 3 and three pars, while Rose three-putted No. 5 for bogey. Then Rose battled back with birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 8 to tie.

The back nine didn’t disappoint. Just when it looked like García had collapsed like I-85 in Atlanta, with ugly bogeys at 10 and 11 where he suddenly found a two-way miss, he pulled out the par of a lifetime at the 13th. After pulling a drive that was unplayable under a bush on the wrong side of Rae’s Creek, García took a penalty, punched out, hit a great wedge and made a crucial 5-footer for par to remain only three behind.

A switch flipped after that. García birdied No. 14, stiffing an approach. Then he almost holed his second shot on the par-5 15th. When the 10-foot eagle putt fell, the place erupted. Rose birdied 15 and 16. García’s putting, always the weakest part of his game, showed signs of slippage when he missed a 4-footer for birdie at 16.

Rose bogeyed No. 17 from the front bunker and both missed very makeable birdie putts at the last to win, which set up the playoff.

With the long pine shadows dancing on the 18th green, García made a putt he didn’t need (Rose made bogey after hitting his drive right under a magnolia) to put an exclamation point on this poignant victory.

For days, people will talk about the fact that the Spaniard won on what would have been Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday. But forever, Sergio will be the 2017 Masters winner.


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