Sergio Garcia breaks golf majors curse with Masters win

2016 champion Danny Willett puts the green jacket on Sergio Garcia after the Spaniard won the Masters on Sunday in Augusta, Ga. (AP photo)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — No one had played more majors with less to show for it.

Sergio Garcia had plenty of reasons to believe it would go on that way forever.

He was already two shots behind Justin Rose with just six holes left when his hooked tee shot at No. 13 crossed the creek and settled beneath an azalea bush. Suddenly, this Masters took on a sad, if familiar cast.

Another bad break. Another alibi for losing. Like the 70 previous times he’d come to a major with high hopes, another one of golf’s biggest events appeared destined to slip from his grip. Instead of folding up this time, Garcia decided to fight back.

“I knew I was playing well,” he said, the green jacket draped across the Spaniard’s slim shoulders. “I was very calm, much calmer than yesterday, much calmer than I’ve felt probably in any major championship on Sunday.”

An improbable par at the 13th provided the impetus for an unexpected charge. Garcia and Rose had been butting heads since they were teenage stars in Europe some 20 years ago, and after the Spaniard pulled even with an eagle two holes later, this duel was extended to a playoff.

Both missed short birdie putts to win in regulation and returned to the 18th tee for the first extra hole. This time, the Englishman blinked first.

“Any time one of those guys gets that huge monkey off their back, I think it makes it a poignant major championship,” Rose said afterward.

He could afford to be gracious, of course, having won a major at the U.S. Open in 2013.

Garcia became the third Spaniard to earn a green jacket, winning on what would have been the 60th birthday of the late Seve Ballesteros. And it was Jose Maria Olazabal, who won the Masters in 1994 and 1999, who sent him a text on the eve of the Masters telling Garcia to believe and “to not let things get to me like I’ve done in the past.”

He didn’t.

“Obviously this is something I wanted to do for a long time but, you know, it never felt like a horror movie,” Garcia said. “It felt like a little bit of a drama maybe, but obviously with a happy ending.”