Golfers send emotional tributes to legend Seve Ballesteros final round of 2017 Masters

April 9th, 2017 isn’t just the final round of this year’s Masters tournament. It marks the birthday of golf legend Seve Ballesteros, who would’ve been turning 60 had he not passed away, tragically, from Brain cancer 2011.

Seve’s swagger and flair made him one of golf’s true icons — especially among Europeans. Players grew up with him as their hero, so on Masters Sunday, the world paused to pay their respects to a man who meant so much.

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Sergio Garcia pays tribute to 'idol' Seve Ballesteros after beating Justin Rose to win the Masters: 'It's amazing to do it on his 60th birthday'

Sergio Garcia pulled off one of the most stunning victories in Masters history last night as he beat England's Justin Rose on the first hole of a play-off.

Fittingly, the Spaniard claimed the green jacket on what would have been the 60th birthday of his hero, Seve Ballesteros.

The Ryder Cup team-mates finished on nine under par with both missing sinkable putts on the 18th but Garcia kept his nerve on the first extra hole to record his first major success at the 74th attempt.

An emotional Garcia became the third Spaniard to win the Masters, following Ballesteros in 1980 and 1983 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 1994 and 1999.

'It's been such a long time coming and I thought I had it on 18,' Garcia, who celebrated with American fiancee Angela Akins, said before receiving his green jacket from 2016 champion Danny Willett.

'I hit the putt exactly where I wanted. I knew I was playing well. I felt the calmest I've ever felt on a major Sunday and even after making a couple of bogeys I was still very positive, and hit some really good shots coming in and I'm so happy.

'It's amazing to do it on Seve's 60th birthday and to join him and (Jose Maria) 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.'

Rose was gracious in defeat, admitting that he was happy to see his Ryder Cup team-mate Garcia finally win a major.

'Lots of good things happened today,' Rose said. 'It was a wonderful battle and if there is anyone you want to lose to it's Sergio. He deserves it, he's had his fair share of heartache.

'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.'

Rose was gracious in defeat, admitting that he was happy to see his Ryder Cup team-mate Garcia finally win a major.

'Lots of good things happened today,' Rose said. 'It was a wonderful battle and if there is anyone you want to lose to it's Sergio. He deserves it, he's had his fair share of heartache.

'I felt I had it under control round the turn, he obviously rallied and had a great comeback with the save on 13, the birdie on 14 and eagle on 15. Other than that I had it won.

'This is a tournament I am going to win one day. I've been in the last group a couple of times and shot 14 under when Jordan (Spieth) won.

'I feel really confident here, this my favourite tournament of the year. I still have a bunch of good years in me and feel this is one I can still knock off.'


The Masters 2017: Sergio Garcia pays tribute to Severiano Ballesteros as he wins first major

No major-winner has ever had so many attempts before tasting the glory and no golfer has even been so honest in the moment of fulfilment.  Sergio Garcia called himself “stupid” for railing against the gods for not allowing him to reach his Augusta destiny.

Garcia, 37, beat England’s Justin Rose on the first hole of a play-off. Yet the mere simplicity of that sentence does not begin to do the occasion, or the gripping duel, justice.

It would have been the birthday of Severiano Ballesteros, Garcia’s  countryman and mentor, and the two-time Augusta winner would have been so impressed with his persistence and application.

This was the 74th major in which Garcia competed, the most of anyone without a triumph. But as he pointed out in humour, all that “if only” wondering is finally at an end. “I guess I’m now the best player to only have won one major,” Garcia said.

But in the post-victory euphoria, after a once hostile US crowd had chanted "Sergio, Sergio", there was real and commendable candour. It was not that long ago when he declared he could not win at Augusta and neither did he much like it.

"How stupid I really was trying to fight against something that you really can't fight,” he said. “I needed to just accept things,” Garcia said reflecting on all those close calls which made him so bitter.

“When I first came here as an amateur in 1999, I felt like this course was probably going to give me at least one major.  But I'm not going to lie, that thought kind of changed through the years, because I started feeling uncomfortable here.

“But I kind of came to peace with it the last three or four years and I accepted what Augusta gives and takes.  And I think because of that I'm able to stand here today. But it never felt like a horror movie. A little bit of a drama maybe, but now with a happy ending."

When receiving the trophy, Garcia looked up to the heavens and thanked Ballesteros, who died six years ago. "Seve did come into my mind today,” he said. “I'm sure he helped a little bit with some of those shots and some of those putts." But there was also a nod to Jose Maria Olazabal, the other Spaniard to win the Masters.

“To do it on Seve’s 60th birthday and to join him and Olazabal, my two idols in golf my whole life, it's something amazing.  Jose sent me a text on Wednesday night telling me how much he believed in me and what I needed to do.  And just pretty much believe in myself and being calm and not letting things get to me that I've done in the past And he said I’m not sharing my champions’ locker with anyone but you.”

Garcia is getting married this year to his fiancĂ©e, Angela Akins, and he gave credit to her influence. “I’m happy in my life and that helps enormously,” he said.

Garcia also paid tribute to Rose and revealed that the Englishman told him when they hugged on the 18th green, “nobody deserved this more than you”.

Rose took the positives out of his second runners-up Masters placing in three years. "This is a tournament I am going to win one day," Rose said  "I've been in the last group a couple of times and shot 14-under when Jordan [Spieth] won. I feel really confident here, this my favourite tournament of the year. I still have a bunch of good years in me and feel this is one I can still knock off.

"Lots of good things happened today. It was a wonderful battle and if there is anyone you want to lose to it's Sergio. He deserves it, he's had his fair share of heartache."

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