UNITED STATES: Five things we have learned from the 81st Masters golf tournament won Sunday by Spain’s Sergio Garcia:
Perseverance Pays Off
Sergio Garcia played in 73 major golf tournaments without a victory. He had come heartbreakingly close, been outplayed late and squandered last-hole leads. After coming to grips with the fact he might never win one, the 37-year-old Spaniard did by taking the Masters, beating England’s Justin Rose in a playoff for the green jacket and a $1.98 million top prize. He will jump from 11th to seventh in the world rankings.
Amateurs become pro champions
Garcia became the fifth former Masters low amateur award winner to capture the green jacket as a professional. The Spaniard took the award at Augusta National in 1999 just before turning pro. Only four others have won the Masters after taking low amateur honors — 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus, 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, five-time major champion Phil Mickelson and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw.
Experience pays off
Twenty years after a 21-year-old Tiger Woods became the tournament’s youngest winner and set a record for the lowest 72-hole total and widest victory margin, the tricky Augusta National course still rewards experience as well as raw talent. Over the first two rounds, wily contenders like Phil Mickelson kept their scores down in tricky conditions aggravated by blustery winds that turned scoring into a lottery. While top contenders like world number three Jason Day of Australia blew away their chances in the high wind, scoring a two round eight-over 150, 25-time Masters starter Mickelson kept the damage limited to 143. When the wind dropped and conditions improved, it was Day who fired a low 69 Saturday while Mickelson returned a two-over 74.
No pain no gain
Jordan Spieth, a 23-year-old Texan who won the Masters in 2015 and the US Open the same year, is learning to deal with the pain. Last year Spieth was leading by five shots in the final round when he plunked two shots into Rae’s Creek and quadruple bogeyed the 12th an squanered his chance. This time he fired into the creek again and his Masters hopes once more vanished. “Lots of positives coming out of this week,” said Spieth, adding the resilience was a golfer’s best asset.
It Pays To Dress Smart
A smartly attired young Masters fan got the best souvenir from Augusta National on Sunay from American Matt Kuchar who handed him the ball he hit into the cup for a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th. Kuchar, who fired a five-under par 67 to finish tied for fourth at five-under 283, was celebrating the ace when he noticed a boy wearing a hat styled like that of PGA Tour-record 82-time winner Sam Snead, a button proclaiming he was a member of Arnie’s Army in memory of the late Arnold Palmer, and a loud bright orange outfit matching the style of US star Rickie Fowler.