Garcia takes early control of Masters final round

Garcia takes early control of Masters final round

For so long Sergio Garcia was the nearly-man who many had written off to win a major title, but no longer after the Spaniard finally made his breakthrough with a dramatic Masters victory at Augusta.

Garcia finally broke through in his 71st major as a professional, and almost 18 years after he was runner-up to Tiger Woods in a breakthrough performance in the PGA Championship.

It was worth the wait.

Twice on 18 (the 72nd and 73rd hole), Garcia was the king of the moment, dropping a pair of approach shots that won him the tournament. The incredible camaraderie between them fuelled the intrigue as the duel continued with Garcia pulling things back and heading into the final hole.

Garcia has gone a combined 38-over par to average 75 in 13 prior Masters third rounds.

Garcia became the third Spaniard in a green jacket, winning on what would have been the 60th birthday of the late Seve Ballesteros.

Sergio Garcia's tee shot was even closer, curling back toward the pond before stopping 6 feet away.

American Matt Kuchar, who made a hole-in-one on the short 16th, and Belgian debutant Thomas Pieters ended on five under.

As for the other 2017 majors, Hadwin is already in the field for the PGA Championship in Augusta, but he still needs to qualify for the U.S. Open in June and the Open Championship in July. The golf world expected big things from him. The putt barely trickled into the cup for his first eagle at Augusta National in 452 holes.

Rory McIlroy finished in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive year at the Masters.

One's got a gold medal and wants a green jacket, the other just wants a major title. Rose was in trouble from the start with a tee shot that sailed right, leaving him blocked by a Magnolia tree.

The patrons chanted "Kooch!" as the popular golfer walked toward the green.

At 13, Garcia gave a look of despair watching his ball in the air. Rose, nerveless, matched him, drawing level at nine under with three holes remaining.

Sergio Garcia of Spain lines up a putt at the Masters tournament in Georgia.

But his time at the top was brief as Rose broke his run of six pars with a nerveless birdie putt, and both contenders then peppered the pin at 16 and the Englishman piled on the pressure when he holed his slippery birdie putt.

Australia's Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters victor, was seventh on 213 with 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa another stroke adrift with England's Lee Westwood and Belgium's Thomas Pieters on 215.

There's Jordan Spieth, who "obviously has a special relationship the Masters", Rose said.

He was notably burned by losing a playoff to Ireland's Padraig Harrington for the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie after having a putt to win on the final green.

He rolled in a 5-foot putt at the first hole, breaking a tie for the lead with England's Justin Rose.

The momentum from that seven-foot par putt carried over to the next two holes. It's his second straight day over par as he attempted, at 46, to become the oldest victor at Augusta National. Garcia is a longtime star but still seeking his first major championship. Also an afterthought was Rickie Fowler, who started one shot behind and shot 76. He hit a first-round 65 in 2011 and a final-round 66 in 2015. "We'll see, unless we do something down the road". "What hurts", he said, "you just don't know how many opportunities you will have to win the Masters".

"It would have been nice to swing a little better, like I have been but that was a little off".

Els has played the Masters 23 times. The last four years, he's finished a combined 26 shots out of the top spot.

The day is here: Masters Sunday. The lead stayed at two shots, and the game was on. First was a birdie on the par-4 14th.

Justin Rose sounded more like a golf fan planning out his Sunday TV schedule than a co-leader at the Masters prepping for the final round. "They were rolling perfectly", Rose said. He has a comfortable pairing with longtime Ryder Cup pal Sergio and he's putting as well as ever.

He summed up his rundown saying, "There's wonderful storylines". "After the first round, I couldn't ask for much better than this", Spieth said.

Garcia pulled three shots ahead Sunday with two early birdies and a bogey by Rose at the fifth.

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