Monday, 10 April 2017
Sergio Garcia - gestures to the sky after his Masters victory  (Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia - gestures to the sky after his Masters victory (Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia took inspiration from his heroes Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal as he ended his long wait for a Major Championship at the Masters Tournament.

The late, great Ballesteros, who would have been 60 on Sunday, won five Majors in his brilliant career while Olazábal was a two-time winner at Augusta National - the last of those wins coming in 1999.

That was the same year Garcia announced himself onto the world stage by finishing second at the US PGA Championship as a 19 year old, a performance that many expected would herald the beginning of another Major-filled career from a Spaniard.

Now, 18 years and 69 attempts later, Garcia finally has his hands on one of golf's four biggest prizes and he admits the birthday of Ballesteros and a message from Olazábal were on his mind as he beat Justin Rose in a play-off.

"It definitely popped in my mind a few times. There's no doubt about it," he said. "Obviously today a couple of times here and there. And I'm sure he (Ballesteros) helped a little bit with some of those shots or some of those putts.

"Obviously a lot of great notes from family, friends, throughout the beginning of the week and a lot of cute and beautiful notes from my fiancée were stuck in the mirror of the bathroom. All those things helped a lot.

"I think that obviously José Maria's was very special because he's my idol. Him and Seve are both my golfing idols since I was very, very little. You know what he said? He mentioned you know what you have to do, just believe in yourself.

I'm sure he (Ballesteros) helped a little bit with some of those shots or some of those putts - Sergio Garcia

"Obviously he did mention a couple of things that did kind of touch my heart a little bit. He said, 'I'm not sharing my locker at the moment and I hope that I get to do it with you'. So if you guys wouldn't mind putting me with José, it would be great.

"He's a great man and we've had a great relationship for many, many years. To be able to join him and Seve as Masters champions from Spain, it's unbelievable."

It has been a long road for Garcia to the Butler Cabin, one which saw him come so close to winning two US PGA and two Open Championships but also fall out of the Top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking and miss playing the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

But with a wedding coming up this year and his game back to its best, he revealed he felt better coming into Sunday than he ever has at any Major before.

"I don't want to brag about it or anything but from the drive this morning here to the course, I felt very calm," he said. "I felt very at ease, more than yesterday. Even though yesterday I played well, I was a little bit more nervous. It was tough to control my emotions sometimes.

"But today, I felt comfortable all day. Even after the two bogeys, I knew that there were some holes there. There were some tough holes and I was playing well and there were some holes that I could go after.

"So I knew that unless Justin started making birdies left and right, I knew that I would probably have my chances.

"The most positive thing is that I feel like I have so much room for improvement. So if I'm here and pretty much just started, I'm excited. Obviously I'm 37, I'm not 22 or 25 anymore, but I feel I still have a lot of great years in me. And I'm excited for those."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GARCIA, SergioESP18-9
2ROSE, JustinENG18-9
3SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA18-6
T4KUCHAR, MattUSA18-5
T4PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-5
6CASEY, PaulENG18-4

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