After 19 years of playing professional golf and competing in 74 majors, 37 year old Sergio Garcia finally won The Masters yesterday at Augusta, Georgia.
Let’s be honest, we all thought it was going to be Justin Rose’s day as the Olympic and former Open Champion was certainly seen as having the best chance, the cooler head and the most even temperament going into the last round.
But the crowds and patrons and the fans on social media as well as the golfing gods were rooting for Garcia and here’s why.
It’s not just my Spanish ancestry that makes me feel proud to say this and it’s not just because it would have been Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday that made Sergio’s win the more poignant – it was because we saw real Mediterranean-style passion on the golf course, but passion tamed through perseverance and acceptance, which finally distilled as sheer self-belief.
Even the missed opportunities, the wayward shots and the stray putts couldn’t shake his belief or Garcia’s inner calm as he came back again and again under the most intense pressure, without giving in to his sometimes tetchy emotions and self-berating, self-defeating attitude.
Instead he decided to accept fate and keep fighting back.
Indeed, yesterday’s back nine were like a microcosm of Garcia’s entire career, ending in a resounding victory as he closed like a champion on the course he found most troubling, and he did it by coming back from two down with five to go, against a steely-nerved major winner and gold medalist. At the play-off at 18, Garcia needed to two-putt for par from 12 feet. He got there in one.
In his interview shortly before accepting the Green Jacket from last year’s winner Danny Willett, Garcia explained how he’d felt during the day saying that after years of battling with the course he’d found the most challenging of all, he finally got around to accepting that Augusta can give and that it can take away.
“I was very calm, much calmer than yesterday, much calmer than I’ve felt probably in any major championship on Sunday,” said Garcia. “Obviously Justin wasn’t making it easy. He was playing extremely well. But I knew what I was capable of doing, and I believed that I could do it. Thanks to that, I was able to do it.”
It’s been an amazing week, and I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”