BY BILL SCOTT/WRN
Sergio Garcia can no longer be called one of the best golfers to not have won a major. Garcia missed a chance to win the 81st Masters in regulation, then birdied the 18th hole in a one-hole playoff to beat Justin Rose.
The 37-year-old Garcia shot a final-round 69 and finished with a 9-under-par 279 total, winning the $1.98 million top prize. After 73 majors, Garcia got the monkey off of his back to win.
It didn’t come easy though. Garcia had bogeys on holes 10 and 11 and had to scramble for a par on the par-5 13th
Garcia then birdied number-14 to pull to within a shot. He eagled the par-5 15th to pull into a tie with Rose.
Rose went back in front by one when he birdied the par-3 16th, but Garcia pulled even again after Rose missed a five-foot putt on 17, failing to save par.
Both Garcia and Rose hit good drives on the 18th hold, then both missed short makeable putts to force what turned out to be a one-hole playoff.
In the playoff, Rose pushed his drive right into the trees. He was forced to punch out for his second shot, then hit his third shot onto the green. Garcia meanwhile hit a good first drive and put his 9-iron second shot within 14 feet of the cup. He made the birdie putt to not only win his first major, but his first green jacket as well.
Stricker finishes strong
Madison’s Steve Stricker shot a final round 68 to finish in a tie for 16th place at the Masters. It’s the second best round in his 54 career rounds at Augusta, only bettered by his first-round 66 back in 2001.
Stricker made eagle on the par-5 second and had birdies on holes 4, 12, 15 and 17.
Stricker missed by one stroke, an automatic invite to return to Augusta next year.
For Stricker to return to the Masters next year, he will have to move back into the top 50 in the world ranking. He currently stands at number 115.