Every year the PGA’s most hallowed event, equivalent to the Super Bowl or a Stanley Cup game seven with an added air of class to the gentlemen’s game (but with 81 years of history and prestige) is the Masters. All of the great legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicholas and Tiger Woods have all added to the mystic of the game.
Heading into Sunday, the leaderboards had seen their share of swings already, with Mickelson and Hoffman taking their veteran runs at the lead, along with Belgian Peters who had his spot in the lead. However, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia were the two that had the top spot tied up when the home stretch started at -7. The players who took gold and bronze respectively at the Rio Olympics where now neck-to-neck for a green jacket.
Through the opening five holes not only did Garcia look great and grab a pair of birdies, but Ricky Fowler and Jordan Speith also upped their game to start, with Fowler getting all the way to -7 on the front nine to threaten a comeback. Rose on the other hand struggled with his short game out the gate and fell three strokes behind Garcia.
Then, Rose started to hit his stride just as Garcia hit deep into the bushes twice to start the back nine. Flowers and Speith also caught the putting big that Rose started with, leaving the leaders the only ones going back-and-forth to claim the Masters. With Garcia having trouble staying in the fairway, Rose was able to swing his way back on holes 10-13 with some deep drives to set up easy finishes and take the lead headed into the closing holes, up -9 to -6. However, Garcia was not done yet. On hole 15, Garcia was able to bounce back and make par despite shooting deep into the rough, while Rose’s green problems came back to haunt him deep on the back nine. Rose particularly struggled with the putts in the eight to 10-foot range, just brushing the lip of the cup on several occasions to make him tantalizingly close to game-sealing birdie opportunity. Garcia, to his credit, was able to capitalize on this with a birdie and eagle in the last three holes to tie the game at -9 with both golfers on the green, at 18, with the chance to birdie and take home golf’s most coveted award, the Masters Green Jacket.
And they both missed! The tie lead to a sudden death match that is unique to the Masters and only the Masters, as both golfers have zero room for error, taking on the 18th hole and going backwards until one player slips up. It was also the 16th time the Masters have needed extra holes to decide a winner. Make no doubt, watching a Masters playoff is a treat that made this one all the more of a viewing delight.
After picking the order out of a hat, Rose teed off first, promptly hitting into the rough and putting a tree between with low hanging branches between him and the pin. Garcia took the opportunity to gain the leg up and had a beautiful drive down the middle of the fairway.
The key shot came when Rose tried to muscle his way through the tree branches, and advance a mere 10 to 15 feet up and into the fairway, effectively putting him a stroke behind Garcia. After a deadly accurate chip-shot that put Garcia 10 feet from the pin, Rose was essentially out and ended up getting a biggie as Garcia birdied for a -10 score to win the Masters for his first major PGA victory in dramatic fashion.