AUGUSTA—Sergio Garcia had finally accepted that he might never win a major title after 73 failed attempts, only to find a happy ending Sunday by capturing the Masters.
The 37-year-old Spaniard defeated England’s Justin Rose with a birdie on the first playoff hole to claim his first major crown.
The green jacket symbolizing Masters supremacy once seemed like the last major prize Garcia would contend for, having called the Augusta National layout silly and crazy and suffered heartbreaking near-misses over two decades of trying.
“I think the problem is where my head was,” Garcia said. “Sometimes I did think, ‘Am I ever going to win one?’ I had so many good chances and I either lost them or someone did something extraordinary to beat me.
“Lately I’ve gotten some good help and I’ve been thinking a little more positive. And I’ve been accepting that if it didn’t happen, my life is not going to be a disaster.
“But it has happened.”
Garcia, who now has a new jacket in which to marry fiancee Angela Akins later this year, found that in the achievement of a goal he chased for nearly 20 years, he didn’t feel any life-changing impact.
“I don’t feel very different,” he said. “I’m very happy. I’m obviously thrilled about what happened here today. I’m still the same, goofy guy. That’s not going to change.”
The horror movie fan said he never felt like he was trapped in a real-life terror show after all his hard luck in majors.
“I have a beautiful life, major or no major. I have an amazing life,” Garcia said. “I have so many people who care for me and love me and support me. It never felt like a horror movie—like a little bit of a drama maybe, with a happy ending.”
Garcia became the third Spaniard to win the Masters after his idols, the late Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, who each claimed two green jackets.
Spanish players are 3-for-3 in winning the Masters after leading through 54 holes, Olazabal doing so in 1999 and Ballesteros in 1980.
It was Garcia’s second career 54-hole lead in a major, the other coming at the 2007 British Open, where Garcia suffered one of his great major heartbreaks.
He led after each of the first three rounds at Carnoustie and only needed to par the 18th hole on Sunday to win. But Garcia missed an eight-foot par putt and went on to drop a playoff to Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.
At the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, Garcia found water at the 16th on Sunday and Harrington surged to another major title.
Just three years ago at the British Open, Garcia was in the hunt before a bogey at the par-3 15th dropped him three back and he eventually was second to winner Rory McIlroy.
As a teen at the 1999 PGA Championship, Garcia finished second to Tiger Woods, but left a lasting memory by blasting a shot from behind a tree in the lst round and racing up the fairway to see where it landed, jumping in the air with a scissor kick of enthusiasm.
After all that, he had come to grips with the tag of best player never to win a major.
“I tried to look at it in a positive way,” Garcia said. “Best player is still best player. I like where I stand now better. Now I’ll be the best player with one major. I can stand that.”
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