Masters: Emotional Sergio Garcia in exalted company at long last

AUGUSTA GA- APRIL 09 Ernie Els of South Africa walks up the 17th hole with Augusta National member Jeff Knox, the noncompeting marker during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club

The 37-year-old Spaniard defeated England's Justin Rose, the reigning Olympic champion, with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Augusta National after failing in his first 73 tries at a major triumph.

Garcia holed a 12-foot birdie to secure a long-awaited major title at the 74th time of asking at the expense of Rose, who found the pines off the tee and missed the fairway with his second shot.

"Already admired, victory in the 2017 Masters changes the golfing wold's perceptions of the Spanish player", added El Pais.

Phil Mickelson finished even for the Tournament. The day also had an ace from Matt Kuchar, who ended fourth, one place behind 2011 victor, Charl Schwartzel. Kuchar finished tied for third at the Masters in 2012, tied for eighth in 2013 and tied for fifth in 2014.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal has been diminished by injuries, soccer players Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez are near the end, Pau Gasol is no longer a major force in the NBA, Alberto Contador has lost the title of Tour de France favorite, and Formula One driver Fernando Alonso looks downright miserable in his broken McLaren. He has two runner-up finishes and five top-5s.

There are others to whom that label applies, but none as obvious as Garcia was before Sunday.

"But I kind of came to peace with it the last three or four years and I accepted what Augusta gives and takes". But you know, both of us having putts on 18, both slipping by, both just slightly mis-read the putts.

Garcia won on what would have been the 60th birthday of Ballesteros, a date seemingly destined for great things from him.

"Everybody that is around me is helping me, making me not only a better golfer, but a better person", said Garcia.

"It is awesome. To do it on his (Ballesteros's) 60th birthday and to join him and Jose Maria Olazabal, my two idols in golf, it is something incredible", said Garcia before accepting the Green Jacket from last year's victor Danny Willett in Butler Cabin.

The 37-year-old was asked if receiving the backing of those in attendance made his success more special and replied: "They were very supportive but I do have to say that the patrons here have always been incredible".

"Well, " he went on, "I don't have to answer that anymore". I mean, hopefully it is a Masters that goes down in history - and it's always a nice to be a part of history. "But I can live with that".

"I'm disappointed, that's pretty simple I suppose", said Rose, the men's gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"Some of the moments at Augusta I didn't enjoy as much and how stupid I really was to fight something you can't and how I was able to accept things and do things better than I ever had".

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