Masters Tournament: Sergio Garcia wins first career major, at last

After 19 years of near-misses and frustration, Sergio Garcia ended his wait for a major championship in dramatic fashion at the Masters Sunday.

After missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, Garcia held his nerve and curled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole that earned him the green jacket at the age of 37.

Playing the 18th hole minutes after missing a birdie attempt of his own that would have given him his second major, Justin Rose drove his tee shot well right of the fairway and could not recover. The Englishman, who won the 2013 U.S. Open and the gold medal last year at the Rio Olympics, missed a 14-foot par putt that could have put pressure on Garcia.

“Ser-gee-oh! Ser-gee-oh!” the delirious gallery chanted to Garcia, who couldn’t contain his emotion.
Rose lovingly patted Garcia’s cheek before they embraced. Garcia turned with arms to his side, blew a kiss to the crowd and then crouched down and slammed his fist into the turf of the green.
“If there’s anyone to lose to, it’s Sergio. He deserves it,” Rose said. “He’s had his fair share of heartbreak.”

Prior to this week’s Masters, Garcia had played 72 majors, 70 of them as a professional. He had finished in the top 10 a whopping 22 times, including second-places finishes four times — twice each at the British Open and the PGA Championship. After the first of those second-place finishes, by one shot to Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA, many thought it was just a matter of time until the golfer they dubbed “El Nino” would win a major crown.

Little did they know it would take nearly two decades for it to happen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.