Sergio Garcia: Masters winner delighted to join idols Ballesteros and Olazabal

Masters 2017: Sergio Garcia receives Masters Green Jacket
Masters final leaderboard (after 72 holes)
-9 Garcia (Spa)*, Rose (Eng); -6 Schwartzel (SA); -5 Kuchar (US), Pieters (Bel); -4 Casey (Eng); -3 Chappell (US), McIlroy (NI); -2 Scott (Aus), Moore (US)
Selected others: -1 Fowler (US), Spieth (US); Level Kaymer (Ger); +1 Couples (US), Westwood (Eng); +2 Day (Aus), Mickelson (US)

Sergio Garcia said it was “amazing” to join his Spanish idols Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal as a Masters champion after winning at Augusta.

Garcia beat England’s Justin Rose in a play-off on Sunday to finally end his run of 73 majors without a victory.

His win comes on what would have been the 60th birthday of fellow Spaniard Ballesteros, the 1980 and 1983 winner of the Green Jacket, who died in 2011.

“It has been such a long time coming. I am so happy,” said Garcia, 37.

“To do it on Seve’s 60th birthday and to join him and [Jose Maria] Olazabal, my two idols in golf, it’s something amazing.

“Jose sent me a text on Wednesday telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do, believe in myself, be calm and not let things get to me as I had in the past.”

From ‘not good enough’ to a champion

Garcia wins play-off to take Green Jacket

Five years ago, Garcia claimed he was not good enough to win a major after shooting a three-over-par 75 at the 2012 Masters to drop out of contention.

Prior to Sunday’s victory he was on the longest run of majors without a win of any active player – the closest he had previously come was a tie for second at the Open (in 2007 and 2014) and the US PGA Championship in 1999 and 2008.

He revealed that he had identified the Masters as his most likely chance of a major after he tied for 38th and was the leading amateur in 1999, the year Olazabal won the event for the second time.

And he finally made the breakthrough, by winning the first hole of a sudden-death play-off after he and Rose had both tied at nine under after 72 holes.

“I felt like this course was probably going to give me one major,” he said. “That thought changed over the years as I started feeling uncomfortable on the course but I came to peace with it and accepted it.”

On Sunday’s performance the world number 11 added: “I knew I was playing well. I felt the calmest I ever felt in a major.

“Even after a couple of bogeys I was still positive that there were a lot of holes I could get to. I am so happy.”

It was a sensational battle between Garcia and European Ryder Cup team-mate Rose at the Augusta National.

Starting the final round level with Rose on six under par, the Spaniard moved three ahead after five holes but trailed by two after 13 before missing a four-foot putt to win it on the last, However, he kept his nerve in the play-off, winning with a birdie to Rose’s bogey.

“We are both trying to win but we are all people,” added Garcia. “We have to represent our game.

“We are good friends so we were very respectful of each other. We were cheering each other on. We wanted to beat the other guy, not the other lose it.”

Will Garcia be able to land a second win at Augusta to emulate his compatriots?

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