Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
Sports | By Phillip Butler

So close: Justin Rose comes up short in bid for green jacket


Sergio Garcia, golf's resident nearly-man, is the 54-hole co-leader with 2013 U.S. Open victor Justin Rose. Predictably, he came back to the pack Friday but remained in a four-way tie for the top after 36 holes.

The Spaniard and Englishman began the final round sharing top spot on the leaderboard, with American young guns Rickie Fowler and 2015 victor Jordan Spieth in hot pursuit.

Garcia took his emotional, long-sought triumph over England's Rose, the 2016 Rio Olympic champion and 2013 US Open victor, after they finished deadlocked on nine-under par 279 for 72 holes at Augusta National. It's a great time in my life and it would have been nice to walk down the aisle in the green jacket! But Rose bogeyed 17, leaving the two tied with one hole to play.

And his Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia, who will "have a great opportunity". The 2015 Masters champion was all but gone after a frustrating, quadruple bogey nine on the 15th hole in Thursday's opening round.

Garcia's history in major tournaments was an ugly one before this Masters.

Sergio Garcia believes he can win more of golf's biggest prizes after finally claiming his first major title at the 74th attempt in an unforgettable Masters. "I felt the calmest I've ever felt on a major Sunday".

He crouched in disbelief, both fists clenched and shaking, and he shouted above the loudest roar of the day.

As soon as it was over, Rose walked out to embrace Garcia in the middle of the green.

But Garcia missed as well, so they were headed to a playoff.

Seve Ballesteros is Spain's most successful golfer, and was a hero of Garcia. "I know how much it hurts him".

Much was made of the connection to Ballesteros throughout the week, but Garcia highlighted the influence of another Spanish two-time Masters champion, Jose Maria Olazabal. He battled to the end.

"That was a 2-shot swing", Rose said. "He deserves it", Rose said. "He's had his fair share of heartbreak".

Rose would respond to Garcia's eagle by sticking his tee shot on 16 and making birdie.

So back it went to the 18th tee for sudden death, a exhausted drive from Rose handing the advantage to the Spaniard, who made no mistake second time around. He had to take a penalty shot to get out and hit his third shot 89 yards short of the green.

McIlroy has finished in the top seven of all four stroke play events of a 2017 campaign limited by a rib injury, but will make some major changes on and off the course before returning to action at the Players Championship.

Everyone figured this was coming, right? Four times he was runner-up.

He hit wedge to 7 feet and escaped with par.

Spieth stopped each time the huge gallery shouted while Garcia and Rose putted out. The lead stayed at two shots, and the game was on. Instead, they do get a trophy, a replica one at that. Hoffman, though, rallied back after a mistake that might've unraveled many with two steady, closing pars to remain two off the lead. Garcia answered with a wedge that covered the flag and settled 5 feet away. Matt Kuchar made a hole-in-one on the 16th that gave him hope but not for very long. 6-8, and the two players hit the back nine tied at 8 under.

FADING PHIL: Phil Mickelson looked ready for a patented Masters charge Saturday when he opened with birdies on the first and second holes. Fowler shot 40 on the back side and signed for a 76.

Last-group playing partners and friends Garcia and Rose were level for the lead at the start of what become a tension-packed thrill ride of a final round.

And then smiling, he added, "But it happened".

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