If you’d written a script in which Sergio Garcia finally won a Major at the 74th attempt on what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, the great Seve Ballesteros, it would been dismissed as far-fetched, but on Sunday, in one of golf’s most memorable triumphs, he did just that.
It felt like destiny, but just as extraordinary was the manner of the contest between Garcia and Justin Rose, the momentum toing and froing over the last nine holes and into the sudden-death play-off.
Garcia had to dig so deep when he found trouble at 13. Two shots behind Rose, who looked in full control, it appeared to be the same old story for the Spaniard. But no. He salvaged a fantastic five and drew level with Rose when he eagled 15.
Then, after Rose missed a chance to finish it by bogeying 17, both men missed crucial putts at the last green. And so they went again.
Almost for the first time all week, Rose hit a poor tee shot and Garcia, who drove magnificently, took charge. The rest is history.
Garcia has already had a magnificent career, with several big titles against the world’s best including The Players Championship, but the Masters is the icing on the cake.
A Major makes all the difference and nobody can question his quality now.
A key factor was that Garcia stayed calm, even when in difficulty – in fact, I’ve never seen him look so relaxed – and I think that’s down to how happy he is away from the course.
It takes everything you’ve got to win a Major, but now he has proven to himself, and everyone else, that he can do it.
Up to Sergio where he wants to go
Where does he go from here? It could be that he is just relieved and grateful to have finally won one of the four biggest titles – or the floodgates could open.
I certainly think he can land another Major this year. It’s up to Sergio where he wants to go, because he has the game.
The response from his fellow players, especially the English contingent who would also have been rooting for Rose, shows what a popular winner he is.
One man who may have enjoyed it less is Lee Westwood, who is now the best player, even ahead of Colin Montgomerie, without a Major.
The duel between Garcia and Rose was also remarkable for the sportsmanship and camaraderie between the pair.
It was a great spectacle for golf and Rose was fantastically magnanimous in what must have been a very disappointing defeat.
Rose was almost faultless over the four days and looked in control from Saturday morning, but he came up against someone too good on the day.
He will rue this missed chance because ones like that don’t come around too often.
Honourable mentions must also go to Thomas Pieters, who was a fantastic fourth on his Augusta debut, Paul Casey for another strong performance in sixth, and Rory McIlroy, who didn’t seem to get anything right all week and still finished seventh.