After 73 major attempts, 12 top five finishes and four runner-up finishes, Sergio Garcia finally has his much anticipated and long awaited first major championship. Garcia beat out Justin Rose in the first playoff hole to win the 2017 U.S. Masters two Sundays ago.
Garcia started the day tied with Rose as co-leaders, then found himself three strokes ahead of the entire field after five holes. But after nine, Rose and Garcia, two friends and golf rivals, were tied up.
Things suddenly changed for Garcia when he got around the turn and tee’d off on the par-four 495 yard 10th. He put his tee shot into the woods and turned a bogey free front-9, into starting the back nine with back-to-back bogeys, giving Rose a two shot lead and his first of the weekend.
Fans were used to seeing this from Garcia, as stated before, he’s the most decorated golfer in history to never win a major. Instead of getting frustrated or upset, Garcia found a way to make par.
Garcia was now one shot back from the lead after a birdie on 14. He smashed his tee shot straight down the fairway and followed that with his best shot of the tournament.
His 7-iron shot landed within 15 feet of the pin. Garcia took full advantage of this opportunity, dropping his eagle putt in to place him at the top of the leaderboard, tied with Rose yet again.
On the 72nd hole of the tournament, Garcia and Rose both split the fairway with beautiful drives. Rose pushed his eight foot birdie putt right, which gave Garcia a chance to win in regulation. Garcia mishandled the putt, sending the two into a sudden-death playoff.
Rose was first on the tee for the playoff hole, which he blocked far right into the trees and onto the pine straw. Garcia didn’t hesitate, stepped to the tee, and dropped his tee shot right in the middle of the fairway. After Rose missed his birdie putt, Garcia was in full control of winning his first major.
Garcia drained his 10-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th, dropping to his knees in emotion, the ending of all self-doubt.
The gallery roared around him. They had been on the edge of their seats all day as Rose and Garcia battled against one another in the final pairing.
Garcia became the third professional from Spain to win a green jacket, winning on the day his late idol Seve Ballesteros was born. And even José María Olazábal sent Garcia a text before the first round to believe in himself.
“It’s been an amazing week,” Garcia said, “and I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”
Dakota Schlater is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at DS805452@wcupa.edu.