Sergio Garcia must have felt that his first masters win might never come.
After all, he has endured 74 tournaments of going home empty handed – including 71 in a row – before yesterday’s win, Garcia could be forgiven for feeling like the golfing gods have been frowning on him over the course of his career. Sometimes capitulation for which the Spaniard must himself take the blame, other times astonishing play from inspired opponents, occasionally an amalgamation of the two, have conspired against Garcia in key moments, who was described by his playoff opponent last night, Justin Rose, as “the best player not to have won a major, no longer”.
Rose summed up the mood of the golfing world at large, it has long been the narrative for Sergio Garcia that he is far too accomplished a golfer not to have won at the very highest level – now, he no longer holds that dubious honour. It was clear that many on the PGA tour were delighted for the Spaniard, who now has more top 10 finishes in majors than any other golfer on tour.
Rory McIlroy tweeted his delight for both competitors
Rickie Fowler advised him to enjoy the moment
Justin Thomas referred back to Garcia’s great career
One tweet, though, was especially notable, considering the, at times, fractious relationship between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods. The feud between the pair started more than 15 years ago during the US Open at Bethpage back in 2002, and was still bubbling under the surface before firing up once more at the 2013 Player’s Championship.
At the time, Garcia told the media “He called me a whiner. He’s probably right. But that’s also probably the first thing he’s told you guys that’s true in 15 years. I know what he’s like. You guys are finding out.”
Of course, since then Tiger Woods has not been able to compete at anything close to a semblance of his former glory, with injuries to his knees and back consistently conspiring against him. He did appear to put the long running ill feeling with Garcia behind him though, with an – albeit short – congratulatory tweet sent to Garcia in the aftermath of last night’s victory.
I mean, it’s not exactly gushing praise, but credit where it’s due, Tiger – who remains for many the finest golfer to ever wield a club – has acknowledged Garcia’s achievement with good grace.
It was a poignant victory in many ways for Garcia, quite apart from it being his landmark first major. In his victory speech at Augusta, he paid tribute to two Spanish golfing legends: Jose Maria Olazabal and the late Seve Ballesteros, who would have turned 60 yesterday.
“It definitely popped in my mind a few times” he said of the anniversary, “There’s no doubt about it. Obviously today a couple of times here and there. And I’m sure he helped a little bit with some of those shots or some of those putts.”
Garcia will be hoping to replicate his strong form over the next few months, with plenty more significant tournaments on the horizon leading up to September; for his part, Justin Rose already has both eyes firmly set on future success at Augusta.