Sergio Garcia admitted that emulating his golfing idol, Seve Ballesteros, in winning the Masters on what would have been his 60th birthday was an “amazing” feeling after breaking his major championship duck at the 74th attempt.
Garcia became just the third Spaniard to win the Masters after Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, having come through a nerve-wracking final day at Augusta National in which a sudden-death play-off was needed to separate him from Britain’s Justin Rose.
The 37-year-old managed to birdie the 18th hole during the play-off where Rose could only bogey, and it triggered an outpouring of emotion from Garcia, who was embraced by his fiancée, Angela Akins, whom he will marry later this year.
Yet it was the coincidence that his maiden major success would fall on the birthday of the late Ballesteros that would make this victory extra special, along with a message that Garcia received from his former Ryder Cup captain, Olazabal, who helped inspire him to victory.
"It's amazing to do it on Seve's 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf, it's something amazing, Garcia said after receiving the Green Jacket from last year’s champion, Danny Willett.
“Jose sent me a text on Wednesday telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do, believe in myself, be calm and not let things get to me as I had in the past."
He added: "It's been such a long time coming and I thought I had it on 18. "I hit the putt exactly where I wanted. I knew I was playing well. I felt the calmest I've ever felt on a major Sunday and even after making a couple of bogeys I was still very positive, and hit some really good shots coming in and I'm so happy.”
Rose was magnanimous in defeat, with the 2013 US Open champion accepting that if he were to lose to anyone, Garcia would be high up on that list.
"Lots of good things happened today. It was a wonderful battle and if there is anyone you want to lose to it's Sergio. He deserves it, he's had his fair share of heartache,” Rose said.
"I felt I had it under control round the turn, he obviously rallied and had a great comeback with the save on 13, the birdie on 14 and eagle on 15. Other than that I had it won.
"This is a tournament I am going to win one day. I've been in the last group a couple of times and shot 14 under when Jordan (Spieth) won. I feel really confident here, this my favourite tournament of the year. I still have a bunch of good years in me and feel this is one I can still knock off."
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