It was a photo finish. Spaniard Sergio Garcia suffered a bogey on hole 13 in the fourth round of play, but he did not give up yet. He bounced back on 14 with a birdie, swished in an eagle on 15, and then was right back in it. Moments later, he found himself tied at 9 under par with Brit Justin Rose. As they headed into 18, Rose teed off and eventually made it to the green with a long birdie attempt. Garcia teed off and set himself up with a go-ahead five-foot putt, or so everyone thought. Rose two-putt his ball in, and the pressure moved to Garcia. Having practiced the shot many times, he knew it would bank left into the hole. However, as he hit it, the ball banked left like promised but straightened out at the last second and fell short and right of a birdie. Both parred out and survive another round.
Sudden death. The 73rd hole of the tournament. The playoff hole began. Rose hit his tee shot into the woods but made it back to the fairway and onto the green. A whole stroke ahead of Rose, Garcia safely teed off and made it to the green and then buried the winning birdie putt to become the 2017 Masters Champion.
Garcia has been involved in over 73 pro tournaments and finally won his first major title on the 73rd hole at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia on Sunday, April 9. Garcia is one of three Spaniards to have won a major championship, along with Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. When asked about how he felt, Garcia replied, “It’s amazing. To do it on his [Ballesteros] 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf my whole life, it’s something amazing.”
Garcia has come close to a championship many other years but has been unlucky. He has recorded three top-10 finishes (2002, 2004, 2013) and now has the lead for the most top ten finishes, according to a CBS Sports report on Garcia and the 2017 Masters. He received a text from Olazabal describing “how much he believed in me and what I needed to do and just pretty much believing in myself and being calm and not let things get to me like I’ve done in the past.” Sure enough, Garcia took the heartfelt message and capitalized on it with his first green jacket. Garcia joins a long line of historical wins at the Masters.
Brenton Hayward (‘17), who has played golf since he was little, “looks forward to the Masters every year. The Masters puts me in the mood to play a round of golf. This year I was pulling for Justin Rose to win, but I can’t discredit the efforts and execution of Garcia.” Senior Evan Justice (‘17) caught the tail end of the tournament and said, “I was very surprised when Garcia missed the go-ahead putt. I don’t watch golf that often, but this is a tradition like no other.”
Golf Icons such as Robert “Bobby” Jones, Sam Snead, and Arnold Palmer are a significant part of why the Masters, and golf in general, are so popular. In 1934, Jones played a round of golf at Augusta National and drew a noteworthy crowd. Although his performance was subpar, he became known as the man who founded the Masters Tournament. As for Sam Snead, he was the first man to receive a green jacket in 1949, fifteen years after the the start of the annual event. In 1937, club members wore green jackets to distinguish themselves from the crowd, and, each former winner of the tournament before 1949 was awarded with a green jacket. And why is Arnold Palmer important? Well, he is considered to be one of the greatest golfers to ever live, and is famous for his namesake, the delicious Arnold Palmer beverage.
Featured image courtesy of Masters.com.