The champion, holding the Masters trophy, pays tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros
The champion, holding the Masters trophy, pays tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros / REUTERS

After 18 attempts, Sergio García is finally crowned Masters champion

  • The Valencian golfer takes home the Green Jacket after beating Englishman Justin Rose in a dramatic tie breaker

In his 19th Masters campaign and 74th major appearance, García finally won his first major victory on the Augusta National green on Sunday.

Nicknamed “El Niño” after achieving the lowest amateur score in the 1999 Masters Tournament, the golfing world has expected García to win a major since he launched his professional golfing career aged just 19, but after 18 campaigns and 12 top-five major finishes it always seemed to be just beyond his reach. However, as of yesterday, García is no longer the best player to have not won a major.

This year the Spaniard had a somewhat turbulent competition. He let a three-shot lead slip away on the first nine, he was two strokes down after 12 holes and seemed destined for an even greater deficit after a poor drive on the 13th hole. However, García in fact made an epic comeback from the 13th hole onwards, making a birdie at the 14th hole and an eagle at the 15th from 14 feet, working his way into the top two.

The final was incredibly tense as García found himself in a tiebreaker against rival and friend, the 2016 Olympic champion Justin Rose, after both players found themselves on 9 under par after 72 holes. García was finally crowned champion on the first extra hole when he holed a birdie putt after his European Ryder Cup teammate could only manage a bogey. García was first congratulated by Rose who told him that “nobody deserved it more than you do.”

Wearing the iconic Green Jacket, García hailed the influence of previous Spanish champions, José María Olazábal and the late Seve Ballesteros. “This is amazing. To do it on Seve's 60th birthday and to join him and Olazábal, my two idols in golf my whole life, it’s something amazing,” he said.