Spain's Sergio Garcia kept his nerve to end what had appeared an interminable wait for a maiden Major title with a play-off victory over Justin Rose at the 81st edition of the Masters at Augusta last night.
Garcia, who had previously recorded 23 top-10 finishes at Majors without winning, missed a putt to claim the Green Jacket at 18 but recovered to clinch the title when the hole was replayed moments later.
The pair carded a final round 69 to finish nine under, three shots clear of Charl Schwartzel in third and four ahead of America’s Matt Kuchar, who struck a hole in one at the three-par 16th, and Masters debutant Thomas Pieters.
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For the first time in history two Europeans formed the final group at the Masters as Rose and Garcia began proceedings at six under, while the Spaniard flirted with a breakaway charge in the early holes.
By the sixth tee, Garcia, who with 73 was fourth on the list of most Major starts since 1934 without success, had extended his lead to three shots after carding two birdies and Rose a bogey at five.
Garcia had previously been four shots clear after three holes during the final round of the 2007 Open at Carnoustie before eventually losing a play-off to Padraig Harrington. By the eighth, Garcia and Rose were level-pegging again.
The 37-year-old was still bogey free, but Rose, winner of an Olympic gold medal in Rio last year, put together a run of three successive birdies by the back nine.
Rose hit the front for first time on the final day as Garcia dropped a shot, his first bogey of the day, at 10 after finding trees with a poor tee shot, while a second followed at 11 as Rose made par.
Garcia remained in contention with an eight-foot putt for par at 13, while Rose’s much closer effort for a birdie wobbled wide as the 36-year-old missed the opportunity to head to the 14th tee with a three-shot lead.
The Spaniard halved Rose’s lead with his third birdie of the day at 14, while a stunning second shot at 15 paved the way for an eagle as the pair tied on nine under with three holes to play.
Garcia’s putting let him down at 16 and Rose’s at 17 as the duo headed to the 18th level. Garcia failed to convert a 6ft putt to win at 18. Play-off drama ensued.
England’s Paul Casey, meanwhile, finished sixth after a final round 68 moved him to four under for the tournament, while former Rory McIlroy finished a shot further back in a three-way tie for seventh and Lee Westwood one over. There was no Masters redemption for former world No1 Jordan Spieth following last year’s meltdown as he tied for 15th, while Matthew Fitzpatrick came 32nd.