Sergio Garcia Overcomes Odds at Masters to Finally Win First Major

Posted on: April 10, 2017, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: April 10, 2017, 10:41h.

Sergio Garcia captured his first major victory on Sunday at the Masters in what was his 74th grand slam event. Garcia had won nine times on the PGA Tour heading into the Masters last week, but the 37-year-old once nicknamed “El Nino” was considered a long shot to don the green jacket.

Sergio Garcia Masters odds Augusta National
Augusta National has a new member, and his name is Sergio Garcia. After 73 previous tries, the Spaniard is now a major winner. (Image: Tannen Maury/European Pressphoto Agency)

In August, the Westgate SuperBook had Sergio at 50-1 to win in Georgia. Following five top-25 finishes in seven events on the 2017 wraparound season, including two top-10s, the SuperBook lowered his Masters chances to 30-1.

After rounds of 71-69-70, the only player of the week along with England’s Justin Rose to shoot par or better each day, Garcia was tied for the lead heading into yesterday’s final round. And despite his co-leading position, Vegas still had plenty of concerns over a potential Garcia victory.

Before the leaders teed off on Sunday, Garcia was at 9-2 to win behind Rose (5-2), Jordan Spieth (7-2), and Rickie Fowler (4-1).

Spieth began the day two back, and Fowler trailed by one. Bettors in Vegas simply didn’t have the faith in Garcia, and during the final round he gave them plenty of reason to walk away. As they went to the 14th hole, he was two back of Rose, but a birdie-eagle sequence tied things up.

After missing a relatively short putt for the win on 18, the two went to a sudden-death playoff where Garcia made birdie, and captured his first major.

“I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life,” Garcia said afterwards.

In what’s certainly an interesting side note, Garcia’s caddie bib number was 89. It’s the second straight year that 89 has won the Masters. Players are assigned numbers in the order of their arrival prior to the tournament.

Long Time Coming

The Spaniard literally jumped on the golf scene back in 1999 with a duel against Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship. On the 16th hole, with his ball resting behind a tree trunk, Garcia hit what seemed like an unimaginable shot. He sprinted up the fairway and jumped in the air to see where the ball landed, and while Woods was victorious that week, Garcia made plenty of fans.

Over the years, Garcia’s also made plenty of enemies. His flamboyant nature, combined with a controversial comment in 2013 about Tiger Woods and fried chicken, tarnished his reputation. But since then, his golf game returned to form, and with it, came returning fans who believed his time was more than due.

On Sunday, the raucous crowd was no doubt rooting for Garcia. When a Rose bogey on 17 was posted on the 18 scoreboard, the crowd erupted knowing the two were once again tied. Chants of “Ser-gee-oh!” resonated throughout the course, and Garcia came through on what would have been his idol Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday.

Ballesteros, the most famous Spanish golfer in the history of the sport, passed in 2011 due to brain cancer.

Looking Ahead

Golf’s next major is the US Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Dustin Johnson, who withdrew from the Masters due to a back injury in a freak accident, is expected to be back and is the favorite.

Online sportsbook Bovada has Johnson at +750 to win, followed by Spieth and Rory McIlroy (+850), Jason Day (+1200), Hideki Matsuyama (+1600), Rose (+1800), and then Garcia (+2000).