Published: Wed, April 12, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Final round of Masters packed with 'wonderful storylines'


Sergio Garcia was trying to channel Seve Ballesteros on what would have been his heros 60th birthday, but he probably didnt want to channel him quite that much.

Cape Town - England's Justin Rose came up short in bid for a Masters green jacket when he lost the first playoff hole to Spain's Sergio Garcia on Sunday. It was a Ballesteros-style victory, complete with several visits into the Augusta National shrubbery, penalty strokes, choked putts — and just enough spectacular shotmaking. He overcame a two-shot deficit against Justin Rose and won on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. That opened the door for Garcia to win the title by two-putting from 12 feet out.

"But", he said finally, a wide smile stuck in place, "it's happened". That was nearly 20 years ago.

The 33-year-old Australian adopted a conservative game plan to counter brutal winds, making the weekend at the Masters for the first time since 2013.

But to Garcia's massive credit, he fought back in thrilling fashion.

Sergio Garcia is no longer in the conversation of outstanding golfers to never win a major. "Even after making a couple of bogeys, I was still very positive".

I don't watch a lot of golf - your caveat for this column - but I thought CBS was terrific on the final two holes, which is when they needed to be.

He had a shot, hitting his approach to about 14 feet. And Im so happy.”. He roared back again, but a six-foot miss for birdie on 16 allowed playing partner Rose to reclaim the lead by a shot. Now, obviously, I fell out of it and after that you normally do feel calm, the pressure's not on anymore, you don't think you can win, but, I mean, I hit so many iron shots right at the sticks and I could name them for you, just so many shots right at the flag stick.

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The Englishman missed his putt for par, leaving Garcia with two shots at victory.

Garcia, with 19 years worth of disappointment in the major championships behind him — literally if not figuratively — followed that with a birdie on the 14th and then a spectacular eagle on the 15th hole, dropping a 14-foot putt that just died into the centre of the cup. However, seemingly in a matter of moments on the back nine, he made back-to-back bogeys and on CBS Nick Faldo was talking about how Garcia's nerves were suddenly affecting his swing.

The one thing everyone else focused on were his sad-sack results in golf's big events until that last putt rattled at the bottom of the cup: 0 for 70 in his pro career.

Rose was one over for the day after seven holes, but birdied the eighth and picked up five more shots in the last seven holes in a back nine of 31.

FABULOUS FREDDIE: At 57, Fred Couples showed he still knows his way around Augusta National.

But in the early going, when the safe bet was that Garcia would crumple in the moment, he instead played like the guy with the least to prove. The 37-year-old Spaniard trailed Rose by two shots with six holes remaining before ending his two decades of close calls and major meltdowns in major tournaments.

Rose bogeyed after going into the trees off the tee, and forced to chip out right beside Garcia's drive. Would have been nice to continue it on the back nine.

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