Sergio Garcia said yesterday that it was “amazing” to join his Spanish idols Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal as a Masters champion by winning at Augusta.
Garcia beat England’s Justin Rose in a play-off on Sunday to finally end a run of 73 majors without a victory.
The Spaniard won on what would have been the 60th birthday of compatriot Ballesteros, the 1980 and 1983 winner of the Green Jacket, who died in 2011.
“It has been such a long time coming. I am so happy,” said Garcia, 37.
“To do it on Seve’s 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf, it’s something amazing.
“Jose sent me a text on Wednesday telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do, believe in myself, be calm and not let things get to me as I had in the past.”
Five years ago, Garcia claimed he was not good enough to win a major after shooting a three-over-par 75 at the 2012 Masters to drop out of contention.
Prior to Sunday’s victory he was on the longest run of majors without a win of any active player – the closest he had previously come was a tie for second at the Open (in 2007 and 2014) and the US PGA Championship in 1999 and 2008.
He revealed he had identified the Masters as his most likely chance of a major after he tied for 38th and was the leading amateur in 1999, the year Olazabal won for the second time.
And he finally made the breakthrough by winning the first hole of a sudden-death play-off after he and Rose had tied at nine under after 72 holes.
“I felt like this course was probably going to give me one major,” he said. “That thought changed over the years as I started feeling uncomfortable on the course but I came to peace with it and accepted it.”
On Sunday’s performance, the world number 11 added: “I knew I was playing well. I felt the calmest I ever felt in a major.
“Even after a couple of bogeys I was still positive that there were a lot of holes I could get to. I am so happy.”
Garcia and European Ryder Cup team-mate Rose produced a thrilling final day at the Augusta National.
Starting the final round level with Rose on six under par, the Spaniard moved three ahead after five holes but trailed by two after 13 before missing a four-foot putt to win it on the last.
However, he kept his nerve in the play-off, winning with a birdie to Rose’s bogey.
“We are both trying to win but we are all people,” added Garcia. “We have to represent our game.
“We are good friends so we were very respectful of each other. We were cheering each other on. We wanted to beat the other guy, not the other lose it.”