Sergio Garcia is your Masters Champion. The 37-year-old Spaniard got the monkey off his back, winning the Green Jacket in a sudden-death playoff over Justin Rose — and winning in the MOST SERGIO WAY POSSIBLE.
Because Sergio Garcia didn’t just win a golf tournament. He won it, LOST it, RALLIED BACK TO WIN IT AGAIN, MELTED DOWN, and then FINALLY WON IT with a clutch 12 FOOT BIRDIE putt that finally gave Garcia his elusive first major championship.
They say that the Masters doesn’t begin until the Back 9 at Augusta? Well that back nine had Sergio Die, come back to life, and then die again in those nine holes — all of that BEFORE sudden death. A Back 9 that felt like a Sergio Garcia greatest hits album — the one we’ve heard all too many times… a movie we’ve all seen 10 times and memorized all the key lines…. The one that ends with the Spaniard opening a vein at the media table and acknowledging that he just doesn’t have what it takes to be a major champion.
Because that’s what this was. Garcia the same Glass-jawed fighter who hit the canvas after Justin Rose made his run — Rose’s three-straight birdies on 6, 7 and 8 chased by Sergio’s back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11 — giving away a 3-shot lead just as the chips went to the middle of the table and the tournament “officially started.” And bloodied, wobbly and looking all but dead on his feet — Sergio stepped to the tee on the short Par 5 13th looking to get back momentum, and instead — looked like he just gave away another major, D.O.A.
That’s exactly where Sergio lives. Who he is. What he does. And he admitted what was going through his mind when it happened: Why me? Why now? Why am I the guy this always happens to? And he admitted in the past, he would have shut it down.
But somehow, THIS TIME, Serg dug it out. Somehow, a guy best known for the tournaments he’s GIVEN AWAY went and ripped one back — taking his drop and penalty, punching his third shot out and getting up and down from 89 yards and sinking a clutch 7 footer that felt even BIGGER after Rose couldn’t get up and down for birdie from behind the green. And instead of being a dead man walking, potentially DOWN FOUR after having a 3-stroke lead just a half-dozen holes before, Garcia was a new man — flushing a wedge to kick in range on 14 to cut Rose’s lead in half and then setting up 15, where Garcia followed up a massive 330 yard drive with an 8-iron that was PERFECTION, clipping the flag stick before Sergio sunk an EAGLE ON TOP of Rose’s birdie, squaring things up with just THREE HOLES TO PLAY.
But it wouldn’t be Sergio without the next three holes. After stuffing it to 6 feet on 16, he watched Rose make a birdie and he couldn’t answer. After Rose gave it back on 17 — and then MISSED from inside of 10 feet for his own birdie putt, SERGIO stood over a 5 footer that was all that was between him and a Green Jacket. All that stood between him and that exclusive club that he had to think, at this point, at 37, he would never, ever gain membership into. All he had to do was make a 5-footer and his life would change in an instant. .. And, well…he went FULL SERGIO and missed.
Five feet from immortality and Garcia never even hit the hole. It never even had a chance. He couldn’t have read that putt any worse than he did. Five feet with a chance to slide into that Green Jacket and put all the critics to sleep and instead, Sergio essentially proved them all right. And while there was technically a playoff hole still to be played, right then and there it felt over. He was dead. And the dirtiest death of them all — a loss he was never going to recover from, there wasn’t a soul out there who thought Garcia had it in him to pick his corpse off that green — put the paddles to his chest AGAIN, and then go out and win the thing.
But there he was — after watching Rose fan his drive into the pinestraw, Serge hammered another driver down broadway, stuffed another IRON close, and given his SECOND SHOT at history, SERGIO SEALED THE DEAL.
A career played out right in front of our eyes — only this time it ends with SERGIO getting the win, in the most Sergio way possible. A win ripped back from the jaws of defeat. And a major championship for Garcia on the day that would have been his hero, Steve Ballesteros’s 60th birthday.
THE MOST SERGIO WIN EVER. One of the most dramatic finishes to the Masters ever. And a new champion after Sergio Freaking Garcia survived the pressure cooker that is Augusta National.