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Sergio's time to shine: Garcia wins first major in Masters playoff

Sergio's time to shine: Garcia wins first major in Masters playoff

And what I needed to do. You know, what he said, he mentioned, you know, just you know what you have to do, just believe in yourself.

"I think his career deserved a major and we were all anxious his career wasn't going to end with one", the Irishman said. Rose was in trouble from the start with a tee shot that sailed right, leaving him blocked by a Magnolia tree.

But Garcia dug deep and produced a clutch par save at the 13th after pulling his drive into the shrubbery, and he followed a birdie at 14 with a superb eagle at the next to regain a share of the lead. When Garcia stood at the same hole in the final round staring at trouble on the bank above the creek, he made a decision to fight back instead of folding up.

Garcia was long dubbed "the best player to never to have won a major" throughout his career spanning nearly two decades.

Garcia and Masters runner-up Justin Rose were ranked 11th and 14th respectively in the world last week, but it was hardly a surprise they ended up separating themselves from the field, especially in the absence of Johnson, who pulled out at the last minute with a back injury.

Rose birdied to match Garcia, then birdied the par-3 16th only to bogey and remain deadlocked to set up the closing drama.

The Spaniard stamped himself as one of the game's greats in remarkable fashion by overcoming some final round, back-nine adversity to claim his maiden major title in a playoff with friend and European Ryder Cup team mate Justin Rose. Rose's approach hit off the side of the bunker and kicked onto the green, stopping 7 feet away. "There's no doubt about it, and I'm sure he helped a little bit with some of those shots or some of those putts". And I hit some really good shots coming in. "That putt really turned the clock a little bit for me". I felt fantastic out there. I felt great. I felt in control.

The Spaniard and Englishman began the final round sharing top spot on the leaderboard, with American young guns Rickie Fowler and 2015 victor Jordan Spieth in hot pursuit.

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Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman, like Spieth at 4 under to start the day, both fell back as other players shot up the leaderboard with under-par runs.

This was Rose's 13th top-10 finish in a major and eighth top 5. He had to take a penalty shot to get out and hit his third shot 89 yards short of the green. I'm excited. Obviously, I'm 37, I'm not 22 or 25 anymore, but I feel I still have a lot of great years in me.

Garcia hadn't been as tortured at Augusta National - he had three previous top-10 finishes and was the low amateur in 1999. That, of course, was the year Phil Mickelson broke his own major drought by winning the Masters in dramatic fashion. In a decade of golf, Garcia had gone from not caring about victory because of the sheer joy of playing to not caring about victory out of a kind of psychologically protective necessity.

Rose certainly was convinced, the Olympic champion going toe-to-toe with Garcia in a back-nine battle that at times was like a heavyweight fight. Of course I could.

"But I made peace with it the last three of four years and I accepted that Augusta gives and takes".

Twenty years after a 21-year-old Tiger Woods became the tournament's youngest victor and set a record for the lowest 72-hole total and widest victory margin, the tricky Augusta National course still rewards experience as well as raw talent.

Along with the happy reflections of the people around him - including Angela Akins, the former Golf Channel reporter he plans to marry in July - that final burst of emotion was thinking about "moments that unfortunately didn't go the way I wanted".

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