Sergio Garcia outlasts Justin Rose to claim Masters, first major
Sergio Garcia won his first major title on Sunday by making a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Justin Rose at the Masters.
Playing Augusta National’s 18th hole in the playoff, Rose sent his tee shot into the trees to the right and was forced to punch out close to where Garcia’s tee shot ended up in the fairway.
Garcia’s approach came within 10 feet, and Rose followed to within 14. Rose missed the putt. Garcia stepped up and rimmed in a birdie putt for the victory.
Both players missed birdie putts on 18 in regulation, with Garcia’s a real dagger. He was 5 relatively flat feet away from his first major victory. Rose had slipped his putt past the hole from 7 feet.
Rose led by a stroke heading to 17, but he hit his approach shot into the greenside bunker and couldn’t get up and down. His bogey put both golfers at 9 under.
Garcia rallied to tie Rose for the lead with three holes remaining. He birdied the 14th hole and followed with an eagle on the par-5 15th after his approach shot caught the flagstick and stopped 15 feet away. The putt barely trickled into the cup for his first eagle in 452 holes at Augusta National.
Rose managed to make a birdie, but it wasn’t enough to keep the lead.
He reclaimed the lead at the 16th hole with a brilliant tee shot, which set up an 8-foot birdie putt that pushed his score to 10 under.
Garcia’s tee shot was even closer, curling back toward the pond before stopping 6 feet away. But the Spaniard pulled the putt and settled for a par that left him one stroke behind with two holes remaining.
Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters, Charley Hoffman share lead with Rickie Fowler
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rickie Fowler finally got to the top of the leaderboard in a major and didn’t have much of a view.
Right next to him was Charley Hoffman, playing in the final group going into the weekend at the Masters for the second time in three years. Sergio Garciaknew the score when no one else did and had his first share of the lead in his 19th time playing Augusta National. Not to be overlooked was Thomas Pietersof Belgium, a real threat to become the first Masters rookie since 1979 to leave with a green jacket.
And those were just the co-leaders in the largest 36-hole logjam at the Masters in 44 years.
Even more daunting were the players lined up behind them — Jordan Spiethand Phil Mickelson among four Masters champions, Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose, Spanish rookie sensation Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, missing only this major for the career Grand Slam.
“It’s going to be a fun weekend,” Fowler said after a 5-under 67, the best score of another wind-swept day. “We’re going to see a lot of good golf and battle it out.”
Two days of survival gives way to a shootout among some of golf’s biggest stars.
In conditions just as demanding as the opening round, Fowler holed out a bunker shot for eagle on his second hole, quickly moved into the lead pack and secured his spot in a share of the lead with a tricky birdie putt from the collar of the 16th green.
Garcia, playing his 70th consecutive major and still looking for that first victory to define an otherwise strong career, wasn’t the least bit bothered by seeing the wrong score for him on a leaderboard behind the 13th green when a penalty for a lost ball was mistakenly attributed to him. He bounced back from a bogey behind the 13th green by firing a 3-iron across the water and into the wind to the 15th green for a two-putt birdie. He shot a 69.
Pieters moved to the top by hitting off the pine straw and over a tributary of Rae’s Creek to 12 feet for eagle on No. 13, and he followed with a wedge to 4 feet for birdie on the 14th to shoot 68. Hoffman lost his four-shot lead in 11 holes before he steadied himself the rest of the way and limited the damage to a 75.
The leaders were at 4-under 140.
Hoffman will be in the final group going into the weekend at the Masters for the second time in three years, with one big difference. Two years ago, Hoffman was five shots behind Spieth in what turned out to be a runaway for the young Texan.
This time, the Masters appears to be up for grabs.
The wind began to subside as the pines cast long shadows across the course late in the afternoon, and the forecast is close to perfection for the rest of the weekend, with mild temperatures and hardly any wind.
That won’t make it any less exhausting, not with 15 players separated by only five shots.
The last time there was a four-way tie for the lead at the halfway point of the Masters was in 1973, when Bob Dickson, Gay Brewer, J.C. Snead and Tommy Aaron were tied at 3-under 141. Aaron went on to claim his only green jacket.
Hoffman had a chance to keep his distance until he ran off five bogeys in a six-hole stretch, including a three-putt from 4 feet at the par-5 eighth.
“Everybody was talking about how great that round was yesterday, but it was pretty easy to me — making putts, hitting good, solid golf shots,” Hoffman said. “Today I think I sort of felt how hard it was for everybody else in this wind when you got out of position.”
Garcia only really got out of position on the scoreboard.
His tee shot on No. 10 clipped a tree and shot back into the fairway, while Shane Lowry also hit a tree and couldn’t find it. Both were wearing dark sweaters during the search, and the scorers were confused with who lost the ball. Garcia made bogey, dropping him to 3 under. A few holes later, however, it was changed to 1 under on the scoreboard, and Garcia pointed to the board behind the 13th green.
It eventually was fixed, though that was of no concern to the 37-year-old Spaniard.
“The most important thing is I knew where I stood,” Garcia said.
And he knows the score that everyone talks about — 70 majors as a pro without a victory, and enough close calls to make him wonder if he’ll ever get it done.
Spieth, undone by a quadruple bogey in the opening round, started slowly and finished strong with birdies on the 16th and 18th for a 69. Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, also had a 69 and joined Spieth at 144.
“We’re in a position now where we can go out there and win this thing and certainly make a run,” Spieth said. “So that right there just kind of gives me chills, because after yesterday I was really disappointed in being 10 shots off the lead.”
And right there with them was Mickelson, who can become the oldest Masters champion. The 46-year-old Mickelson was one shot behind until he sputtered down the stretch with three bogeys and two par saves over his last five holes for a 73.
“If I can have a good putting weekend, I’m going to have a good chance,” he said.
Him and everyone else.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dustin Johnson took a serious fall on a staircase Wednesday and injured his lower back, and his manager said it was uncertain whether the world’s No. 1 golfer would be able to play in the Masters.
It was a stunning development on an otherwise quiet day at Augusta National, where the course was shut down at 1:30 p.m. ET because of storms.
The real calamity struck a few hours later.
David Winkle, Johnson’s manager at Hambric Sports, said his client fell on the bare wood stairs at the home he is renting in Augusta. Johnson’s trainer, Joey Diovisalvi, told Masters Radio on SiriusXM on Wednesday night that Johnson was going out to the garage to move a car when he slipped on three wooden steps.
Johnson landed on his lower back and both elbows.
“He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably,” Winkle said in an email. “He has been advised to remain immobile and begin a regiment of anti-inflammatory medication and icing, with the hope of being able to play tomorrow.”
Diovisalvi told SiriusXM that they are optimistic Johnson will be able to play Thursday, but first they will have to see how he feels in the morning.
What might help Johnson is that he is in the final group for the opening round, scheduled to tee off at 2:03 p.m. ET with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and PGA champion Jimmy Walker.
Johnson was an 11-2 favorite to win the Masters entering Wednesday, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. After news of his injury, his odds dropped to 7-1, the same as Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Johnson has had his share of mishaps in a major but not before the event even started.
On Tuesday, Winkle described Johnson as being “in as good a shape as I’ve ever seen him in every aspect of his game and his life.”
On Wednesday, Johnson was at Augusta National to play nine holes before the first wave of storms moved in.
Johnson has won three straight tournaments — including a pair of World Golf Championships — heading into the Masters to rise to world No. 1.
He had been scheduled to attend the Golf Writers Association of America annual dinner Wednesday night to accept its award as male player of the year. He was coming off a season in which he won the U.S. Open for his first major, was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year for the first time, won the PGA Tour money title and captured the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.
If he is unable to play Thursday, Johnson would be the fourth world No. 1 to miss a major championship, joining McIlroy (2015 Open, ankle), Greg Norman(1988 Open, wrist) and Tiger Woods, who missed the 2014 Masters (back surgery), the 2008 Open (ACL surgery) and the 2008 PGA Championship (ACL surgery).
Winkle said he would not have any further comment until he knows more about Johnson’s condition.
If Johnson cannot play, there are no alternates at the Masters.
Information from ESPN’s Bob Harig and The Associated Press was used in this report.