Master's in Review: Monkey Removed From Garcia's Back
Sergio Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win the 2017 Master's Tournament, forever changing how he will be remembered by golf enthusiasts. Up until winning this year’s biggest tournament on the PGA tour, Garcia was known as perhaps “The best golfer to never win a major”. He will never qualify for that dubious distinction again.
Garcia and Rose came into the final round tied for the lead, but with Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth (perhaps the best golfer in the world period) lurking, Garcia winning his first major was anything but a safe bet. We had seen Garcia fail to close in a major before and there was little reason to believe this would be any different.
But both Fowler and Spieth had rough rounds on Sunday. Fowler shot a 76 and Spieth a 75 to both end at 287 some eight shots off the pace. That left Rose and Garcia to battle it out for the green jacket. Both shot a very good final round of 69 to end up tied for the lead. Garcia had a tough stretch beginning the back nine when he bogeyed both 10 and 11. He looked to be heading for another one on 13 after he hit his tee shot into an unplayable lie behind an azalea bush. But he managed to save a par on that hole and it seemed to get him going.
Garcia birdied 14 and then eagled 15 to get back into a tie with Rose who birdied 15 himself. Rose birdied 16 to back up one with two holes to play. Would this be another major that slipped out of Garcia's grasp at the end?
Not so fast. Rose bogeyed 17 to put Garcia back to a even with only the 18th to go. Both Rose and Garcia missed birdie putts and so it would go into overtime.
They started the overtime by going back to 18. Rose lost his drive to the right, putting him in immediate trouble. When he bogeyed the hole, Garcia needed to two putt for the win. He needed only one.
When he rolled in the birdie putt, Garcia became the player with the most major appearances with 70, before getting his first win.
Garcia's green jacket felt much better in his back then that monkey he had perched up there every time one of the majors came around on the schedule. No longer will the phrase “but he can't win the big one” be uttered when talking about Sergio Garcia. In 2017, he won the biggest of them all.
The 2017 Master's Tournament will go down in history as one of the most exciting of them all. It will always be remembered for ending Garcia's long majors drought. But it will also be remembered as the first one in decades with no Arnold Palmer. The King had passed away last September and he was remembered in the days leading up to the start of the tournament.
Will this Masters win unlock the flood gates and be the first of several major wins for Garcia? It happened that way for Phil Mickelson, who won the Master's in 2004 for his first major which came in his 13th year on tour. He has since won two more Master's, a PGA and a British Open.
Garcia is a bit older than Phil was at the time of his first Master's, but not by a lot. Mickelson was 34, Garcia 37. We could see him win a few more before he's done now that he knows he can win one.
Spirth will also be a favorite next year and beyond. He looks to be the next Nicklaus/Woods type superstar who will win all of the majors multiple times. He has had difficulty in his last two Master's Sundays, so look for him to fix this. Also Charl Sshwarzel seems to have Augusta figured out. He was in contention going into the final round this year. Plus he already owns one green jacket. And who knows? We may even get a healthy Tiger Woods back next year as well. If he's healthy he cannot be