The final round of the 2017 Masters was set up to be must watch TV after Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose were tied with Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth right behind them, but golf fans know that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday and what we all witnessed was a battle between a man who was desperately seeking his first major championship and a man who wanted to prove that he can win more than one.
Sergio Garcia jumped out to an early three-stroke lead after five holes and the 37-year-old Spaniard appeared to be getting some breaks and after 74 appearances in major championships it looked like things may go his way. Then Garcia pulled his tee shot on the seventh hole and managed to escape from the trees into a front right bunker, chip up close, and save par which warranted a nice fist pump.
But Rose caught Garcia the next few holes with birdies on the sixth, seventh, and eighth and the two made the turn tied at eight-under.
Again, everyone knows that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday, and after Sergio hit his drive right on the par-4 10th hole and had a very difficult shot that ran off the green he dropped a shot with a bogey giving Rose sole possession of the lead.
Garcia hit another poor drive into the trees on the 11th and was unable to save par, making his second bogey on the day and dropping back to six-under.
While things appeared to be getting dicey at the top of the leaderboard, Thomas Pieters was making a run. Pieters started the day at one-under and climbed all the way to six-under through 15 holes with birdies on 12-13-14-15 to get to within two strokes of Rose. Pieters then pulled his tee shot on the par-3 16th into the bunker and was unable to get up and down and dropped a shot. He finished at five-under.
During all of this, Justin Rose was just cruising along, not forcing anything and tempting Sergio to make uncomfortable shots.
Garcia once again missed off the tee box on the 13th and after taking an unplayable lie, his run at a major championship appeared to be over.
Justin Rose beautifully lagged a putt from off the back of the 13th green, but on the comeback putt, he missed and left the door open for Garcia. Garcia proceeded to birdie the next hole to cut the lead to one.
After teeing off on the par-5 15th hole, Rose appeared to wince in pain but showed no problems on his second shot.
While Rose’s second shot on the 15th went left, Garcia almost holed his.
The Spaniard then proceeded to drain his eagle putt and tie Rose at nine-under with three holes to go.
Both Garcia and Rose hit great shots in on the par-3 16th hole, but after Rose made his putt for birdie, Garcia missed and was once again behind by one stroke and the battle continued on the 17th when Rose came up short in a green-side bunker with his second shot while Garcia found the putting surface. Rose made bogey and Garcia made par and the two entered the 72nd hole tied at nine-under setting the stage for a very memorable Masters finish.
On the 18th, Justin Rose did this…
Sergio Garcia did this…
And after Rose missed his birdie putt…
Garcia had a chance to win it all and, well, he missed.
That missed putt by Garcia sent the pair back to the 18th tee for the first and only playoff hole because after Rose hit his drive to the right and was forced to punch out into the fairway, Garcia hit his second shot to eight feet and in doing so, forced Rose to make a difficult putt to save par that didn’t drop.
So, the stage was all Sergio’s and he made the most of it and after 73 major championship appearances without a win, the 37-year-old Spaniard is the proud new owner of a green jacket!