Garcia breaks his major jinx

Garcia breaks his major jinx

Spanish ace pips Justin Rose in play-off to emerge champion after 74 starts

Garcia breaks his major jinx

Sergio Garcia ended nearly two decades of major heartbreak when he beat Justin Rose in a playoff to win the Augusta Masters on Sunday on what would have been the 60th birthday of his hero, the late Seve Ballesteros.

After four runner-up finishes and years of self doubt, Spain's Garcia finally delivered the long-awaited title that seemed destined to forever elude him. His 12-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole dropped into the cup at the par-four 18th, triggering a massive cheer from an Augusta National gallery that began chanting his name after willing him across the line.

As his ball disappeared, Garcia crouched, clenched his fists and let out a mighty scream of pure joy releasing years of frustration, his 74 Major starts the most made by any professional golfer before a first win.

"I did think about, am I ever going to win one?" admitted Garcia. "I've had so many good chances and either I lost them or someone has done something extraordinary to beat me. So it did cross my mind.”

Deadlocked after nine holes, the two friends and rivals produced an enthralling back nine showdown worthy of any Masters final round in what became a head-to-head battle after the other challengers fell away.

Garcia and Rose both carded 69 to finish tied on nine-under-par 279, three strokes clear of 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, sending the year’s first Major to a playoff when both missed birdie putts at the 72nd hole.

Garcia frittered away a chance to win in regulation when his downhill five-footer dribbled away to the right and did not even threaten the cup, moments after Rose had also misread his seven-footer.

It marked the first Masters playoff since Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera to become the first Australian to wear the Green Jacket in 2013.

All the omens had seemed in place for a Spanish victory with Garcia starting the day perched atop the leaderboard alongside Rose on Ballesteros' birth anniversary. Garcia becomes the third Spaniard to win the Masters, also joining Jose Maria Olazabal, who triumphed twice at Augusta, in 1994 and 1999.

Born: Jan 9, 1980 in Castellon, Spain.
Began playing golf at age three, taught by his father, Victor, a club professional in Madrid.
Won club championship at age 12.
In 1995 became youngest player to win the European Amateur.
In 1998 won British Amateur Championship.
Won his first title on the European Tour in his sixth start as a professional, in July 1999 at the Irish Open.
In August 1999 achieved worldwide prominence with a final-round duel against Tiger Woods in the US PGA Championship, where he finished runner-up.
Masters victory was his 10th on the US PGA Tour. Also has 12 European Tour wins.
Reached a career high ranking of world number two after winning the HSBC Champions tournament in November 2008.
Made most major starts (74) before first major victory.