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Sergio Wins the Masters

by | Apr 15, 2017

Sergio Garcia got the monkey off his back, slayed the dragon, beat off the demons, and any trite saying you can come up with,  by winning the Masters Championship on Sunday in dramatic fashion in a playoff over Justin Rose.   Sergio, at age 37, had failed four times to win major championships through a variety of calamities and this Sunday it appeared that this would be his fifth time not to win when he was in contention.  What is difficult for the golf fan to understand, is the incredible pressure felt at the professional level in a major championship.  It is “x” times the pressure an amateur player would feel in competing for the club championship.  Sergio was in a terrific match with Justin Rose at 6 under par as they marched on through the front nine.  Both players had their ups and downs but there wasn’t much in it as they completed the 9th hole in level par.  It’s quite common that the Masters begins on the back nine on Sunday.  In my opinion, the pressure cooker went off on the 10th tee and the match became extremely complex.  The 10th hole is a a long par 4 where the object is to hit it as far as you can with a high shot that will roll down a series of hills to leave you with an iron shot between 160-175 yards  uphill to a treacherous green.  Rose steps up on the tee and proceeds to “drop kick” a drive down the right side of the fairway.  The drive is short (perhaps less than 200 yards) and is in the short rough-impossible to get the second shot on the green.  Advantage Garcia!  Garcia, who has been driving the ball with incredible power, steps up to the tee and does almost exactly what Rose did–a popup drive to the right size of the fairway.  It was a terrible shot leaving him with no chance of getting to the green.  Advantage-Squandered  In Championship Golf, this is usually a very bad thing and certainly a bad omen with 8 holes to play.  Sergio’s next shot was even worse and ended up near the bushes on the right side of the fairway.  He had taken an incredible amount of time over this shot and he clearly fanned on it putting him in a terrible position. In this position, almost anything is possible.  In order to get to the green, Sergio had to navigate the bush and a tree–there was only a very small opening as the ball was going to be struck off a bare lie on top of sand with the tree inches away to his right.  He hit a terrific pitch to the green-just getting the ball on the green was an achievement.  The ball landed on the green and sailed about 25 feel where it came to rest.  Sergio two-putted and made this improbable bogey and lost a shot to Rose who was able to get up and down from a much easier position.  Off to the 11th tee, Sergio hits another bad drive–this time way left of the fairway and pretty close to another clump of bushes—memories of the past begin to creep in not only to him but to the crowd as well.  He has no shot to the green but hits an amazing iron shot out of this clump of bushes to a position where he can’t get up and down and make a miraculous par-now 2 back.  As the two of them approach the infamous 12th hole over Rae’s Creek, Sergio’s mind had to reduced to spaghetti–he has to pull it together.  He hits a 9 iron a bit tentatively and the shot just clears the bunkers on the left side of the green–the shot could have gone into that bunker so this is a bit of good luck.  Sergio has now struggled for the last 3 holes and is beginning to look like another failure for him.  My nerves would have been shot by now.  Onto the 13th tee, a birdie hole for most of the field.  Sergio yanks his driver again and this time there is no way to recover -the ball is in the creek on the left.  He would take a drop and be hitting his third shot with no shot to the green.  Once again, he hit another miraculous recovery shot, leaving him 40 yards to the front pin where another miracle occurred–he made another brilliant pitch shot and holed the putt for an improbable par.   Rose, who was in much better position, could not convert his birdie attempt and also walked away with a par–a birdie from Rose would have given him a 3 shot lead with 5 holes to play.  As the putt slid by, you could feel the emotion and momentum of the moment-Sergio was dazed and hurting but still only 2 shots back.  Rose’s missed putt seemed to re-energize Sergio–his game was back.  The momentum had shifted in Sergio’s favor and now was the time to take advantage of it.  He pummeled his drive into the 15th fairway and then hit the shot of the tournament.    He only had 8 iron into the green for his second shot and the shot released straight and true right at the hole–it nearly hit the flagstick and bounded about 8 feel away.  The putt was essential to cash in on the opportunity–it rolled in straight and true for Eagle 3 and when Rose could do no better than par-they were tied.  Rose and Sergio hit terrific tee shots on the 16th and both had great birdie opportunities.  Rose converted and Sergio did not leaving Rose with a one shot lead going into 17.  Rose could not close the deal.  His tee shot on 17 sailed away and he could not manage to recover and recorded bogey.  Sergio, shaking off the missed opportunity on the 16th hole, regained his touch with the driver and made a relatively easy par to square the match.    On the 18th green, Rose had a very makable putt for birdie and it just slid by on the left side-Rose couldn’t believe it.  Sergio now had a putt to win the Masters of six feel behind the hole-you could almost cut the tension with a knife–Sergio missed the putt as well and they went to the 18th hole for the first playoff hole.  The playoff was over quickly–Rose hit another drive similar to the one he hit on No. 10 and the ball went  sailing into the pine straw off the right fairway.  His approach to the green was completely blocked and he could only make bogey.  Sergio hit a fabulous drive up the fairway–he only had a 7 iron to the green–the momentum had completely shifted to his side–he had two putts to the win the Masters from 12 feet.  He holed the putt with a birdie to finally break through with his first victory in a Major.  Sergio’s victory was a significant achievement because he overcame tremendous adversity in his own game from the 10th hole to the 13th hole and managed to stay in the match with some brilliant creativity and resulting shot making.  His birdie in the playoff was a statement that he won this tournament and he won it the hard way.  While Rose had some opportunities, he didn’t lose this tournament–it was snatched from him by a player who dug deep into his bag, overcame significant obstacles and finally calmed that balky putter for a well deserved victory.  It was a good result and hailed almost unanimously in the World of Golf.

Sergio joins the collection


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