As the sun set over Augusta National and the grandstands emptied, 2016 champion Danny Willett placed the infamous green jacket over the shoulders of Sergio Garcia.
Eighteen years after joining the PGA Tour, 37-year-old Garcia has finally won his first major championship. Since emerging on the scene in the 1999 PGA Championship with his legendary “behind the tree shot”, Garcia has been a constant contender on the tour.
After finishing in the top ten of twenty-two majors during his career, Garcia’s triumph in Augusta this weekend has been something golf fans everywhere have been waiting to see. With Garcia’s victory, this Masters tournament is the third in a row to be won by someone without a previous major championship.
The first day of The Masters saw several unexpected twists and turns. Frontrunner for the tournament, Dustin Johnson withdrew from the contest before the first round after suffering injuries that resulted from falling down the stairs earlier in the week. This unusually shocking turn of events created an opportunity for other competitors to make a statement on golf’s most iconic stage.
After the first round, Charley Hoffman led the pack at (-7), four strokes ahead of second place. However, an up and down second round allowed Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler to catch up to Hoffman and share first place, tied at (-4). All four of these golfers were chasing their first major championship, creating an atmosphere of competition that attracts golf fans from all over.
An impressive third round performance from Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose found them both at (-6), putting them in the final group to tee off on Sunday.
The pairing did not take long to make things exciting, as Garcia birdied two of the first three holes, separating himself from Rose almost immediately. This lead did not last very long, as Rose then birdied three straight holes going into the back nine, tying their scores at (-8).
As they progressed through the back nine, Sergio began to crumble, losing valuable strokes with bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes. This struggle was quickly overcome with outstanding performances on the 14th and 15th hole, including an eagle on fifteen, tying Garcia with Rose as they went into the final three holes.
Approaching hole 18, Garcia and Rose were tied at (-9), creating a high stakes atmosphere that often surrounds the final hole at Augusta. However, after Garcia shockingly missed a putt to win the tournament, both golfers had to walk back to the tee box once more to determine a champion.
Justin Rose’s tee shot into the woods left him a difficult path to reach the green while Garcia’s shot left him an opportunity for a birdie putt. Unwilling to make the same mistake twice, Sergio Garcia sank his putt, securing his first major championship and ending the 81st Masters tournament.