Sergio Garcia has secured the first major win of his career after edging out Britain’s Justin Rose at the Masters.
The popular Spaniard – who had seemed destined to be one of golf’s nearly men – won with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden death play-off after the pair had finished the final round tied on -9.
Garcia, 37, made the breakthrough in his 71st major as a professional, nearly 18 years after finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship.
Speaking as he received the winner’s green jacket at Augusta, he said: It’s been a long time coming.
I knew I was playing well. I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a major Sunday.
He said it felt amazing to win the tournament on what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol Seve Ballesteros, who died in 2011.
Garcia is the third Spaniard to win the Masters after Ballesteros, who won in 1980 and 1983, and Jose Maria Olazabal, who triumphed in 1994 and 1999.
He said: Jose sent me a text on Wednesday saying how much he believed in me and what I needed to do.
Rose said his disappointment was tempered by his happiness at seeing his Ryder Cup colleague Garcia finally win a major.
He said: If there’s anyone to lose to, it’s Sergio.
He deserves it. He’s had his fair share of heartbreak.
Garcia overcame a two-shot deficit with six holes to play in the final round – with a stunning eagle on the par 5 15th key to his comeback.
On the first play-off hole, Rose sent his drive into the trees before punching his ball back onto the fairway and missing a 15ft putt for par.
Garcia only needed one of the two putts he had for victory – rolling the ball in from 12ft before crouching in disbelief as his achievement sank in.
The result was welcomed by fellow pros, including Rory McIlroy, who tweeted: 2 unbelievable players and 2 great friends, but I couldn’t be happier for @TheSergioGarcia. You deserve it all amigo!!
Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods tweeted: Congrats @TheSergioGarcia. Well earned.
(c) Sky News 2017: Sergio Garcia edges out Justin Rose to win Masters after play-off