As they progressed through the back nine, Sergio began to crumble, losing valuable strokes with bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes.
Sergio Garcia ended almost two decades of major heartbreak when he beat Justin Rose in a playoff to win the US Masters yesterday on what would have been the 60th birthday of his hero, the late Seve Ballesteros. Before this day, he'd contended for the Masters title six times and never finished higher than eighth. When the 12-footer dropped for birdie, he fell into a deep crouch and let out several loud screams, blowing kisses to a roaring gallery at the 18th green, punching the putting surface and finally hugging fiancée Angela Akins. So it did cross my mind.
"Everybody that is around me is helping me, making me not only a better golfer but a better person".
On the 72nd regulation hole, Rose missed an eight-foot birdie putt, leaving Garcia a five-footer to win, but he pushed it wide right.
Garcia squatted and shook with excitement, rose and screamed with joy and hugged good pal Rose before walking around the green to revel in the moment, pumping his fist and punching the green in delight.
As the sun set over Augusta National and the grandstands emptied, 2016 champion Danny Willett placed the infamous green jacket over the shoulders of Sergio Garcia.
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All the omens had seemed in place for a Spanish victory with Garcia starting the day perched atop the leaderboard alongside Rose on Ballesteros' birthday.
Ballesteros, the Spanish talisman who died of brain cancer in 2011, inspired a generation of golfers in his country, winning Green Jacket twice in 1980 and 1983.
Rose missed his putt to set-up a chance of victory for Garcia but he couldn't hold his nerve and the pair went to a play-off, the first between Europeans at The Masters.
"It's unbelievable. To do it on his 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf my whole life, it's something incredible", Garcia said as he was presented with a famous green jacket by 2016 champion Danny Willett in Butler Cabin.
"I would say this one probably is one that slipped by, for sure", Rose said. On Sunday, though, he demonstrated during an enthralling rollercoaster battle with Rose that he does indeed possess the tools, demeanour and determination of a champion. "He fought his way back into it. Sergio should be very proud of himself".
Rose said: "It is disappointing to come so close".
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"If there's anyone to lose to, it's Sergio". He deserves it, he's had his fair share of heartache.
A year later, Harrington rallied from three down to Garcia on the back nine and beat him at Oakland Hills in the PGA Championship.
They were on level terms two holes later after Garcia nearly made an albatross at the par-five 15th, his eight-iron second landing inches short of the hole before brushing the pin and trickling 14 feet away, from where he made his eagle putt, the ball teetering on the edge of the cup before toppling in.
Garcia closed the gap with a birdie on the 14th and then produced a stunning approach to the 15th, which pitched inches short of the hole and appeared to glance off the pin.
The Englishman hit another birdie on the 16th and then bogeyed the 17th to leave them level with just the 18th to play. "But with a happy ending".
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