Golf: Spain's Sergio Garcia wins US Masters to end long major drought

Sergio Garcia of Spain holding the Masters Championship Trophy after winning the Masters in a sudden death playoff over Justin Rose of England during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament, on April 9, 2017.
Sergio Garcia of Spain holding the Masters Championship Trophy after winning the Masters in a sudden death playoff over Justin Rose of England during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament, on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: EPA
Sergio Garcia of Spain (left) celebrates winning the Masters with caddie Glenn Murray during a playoff against Justin Rose of England in the final round of the 2017 Masters golf tournament, on April 9, 2017.
Sergio Garcia of Spain (left) celebrates winning the Masters with caddie Glenn Murray during a playoff against Justin Rose of England in the final round of the 2017 Masters golf tournament, on April 9, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrating next to the 2016 champion, Danny Willett of England (left), during the green jacket ceremony after Garcia won the 2017 Masters golf tournament, on April 9, 2017.
Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrating next to the 2016 champion, Danny Willett of England (left), during the green jacket ceremony after Garcia won the 2017 Masters golf tournament, on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
Sergio Garcia of Spain is presented the green jacket by last year's champion, Danny Willett of England, after Garcia won the 2017 Masters golf tournament in a playoff at Augusta National Golf Club, on April 9, 2017.
Sergio Garcia of Spain is presented the green jacket by last year's champion, Danny Willett of England, after Garcia won the 2017 Masters golf tournament in a playoff at Augusta National Golf Club, on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
Sergio Garcia of Spain reacting after winning the Masters in a sudden death playoff over Justin Rose of England during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament, on April 9, 2017.
Sergio Garcia of Spain reacting after winning the Masters in a sudden death playoff over Justin Rose of England during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament, on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA (AFP) - Spain's Sergio Garcia captured his first major golf title on Sunday (April 9) after 73 failed attempts, making a birdie on the first play-off hole to defeat Justin Rose and win the 81st Masters.

The 37-year-old Spaniard achieved the greatest triumph of his career on what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, two-time Masters champion and three-time British Open winner Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54.

Garcia and England's Rose, the 2016 Rio Olympic champion and 2013 US Open winner, were deadlocked on nine-under par 279 after 72 holes.

Rose's play-off tee shot soared to the right into the trees but bounced out onto pine straw near the fairway while Garcia found the fairway.

Rose could only punch out under tree limbs onto the fairway and scramble to make a bogey while Garcia put his approach 15 feet from the hole and, needing two putts to win, rolled a birdie putt around the edge of the cup and in for the emotional victory, fist pumping and even punching the green in delight.

Deadlocked at nine-under par as they reached the 72nd regulation tournament hole, both drove into the fairway. Rose rolled his approach off a slope to eight feet from the cup, only to see Garcia land his approach five feet from the pin.

Rose missed his birdie putt and tapped in for par, leaving Garcia to putt for his first major title. But he missed to the right of the cup, then tapped in to force the play-off.

It was the first major play-off for Rose while Garcia had lost his only prior major playoff to Ireland's Padraig Harrington in the 2007 British Open.