Garcia defeats Rose in dramatic Masters play-off to finally end major wait

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Sergio Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a dramatic sudden-death play-off at the Masters to finally end his wait for a major title in a last round for the ages at Augusta.

Following a titanic tussle that saw both overnight leaders shoot 69 on Sunday and finish nine under after the regulation 72 holes, it was Garcia - so often golf's nearly man - who prevailed on the first extra hole following an enthralling finale.

Garcia, who had earned 22 top-10 finishes in majors without winning one of the big four strokeplay prizes, had missed a golden opportunity from five feet to ensure that a play-off was not needed.

But on a dramatic day when the momentum swung back and forth between the Ryder Cup team-mates, who warmly embraced throughout the drama, Garcia was able to celebrate when Rose found trouble off the tee on their return to 18. And the Spaniard's victory was particularly poignant on the day his compatriot and idol - the late, great Seve Ballesteros - would have turned 60.

Rose had led by two shots after the 13th, a hole where he missed a great chance for birdie. Yet Garcia, who had toughed out a familiar mid-round blip, pulled within one with birdie at 14 before a stunning eagle at 15 tied things up.

Again it appeared Rose would claim the win when Garcia fluffed an easy birdie putt at 16, but another dropped shot from the 2013 U.S Open champion at 17 left the door ajar for Garcia to triumph.

Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 champion, signed for a second consecutive 68 to finish outright third on six under, while charges from Matt Kuchar (67) - who hit a hole-in-one at 16 - and Thomas Pieters (68) came too late as they finished a shot further back in tied-fourth.

Jordan Spieth was tipped to win by many after starting the final day two off the pace, but he fell out of contention with a 75 that included another tee shot in the water at the 12th, where his bid for back-to-back titles ended in spectacular fashion 12 months ago. Spieth's playing partner Rickie Fowler (76) finished 11th having been one behind Garcia and Rose with 18 to play.

Garcia had the early initiative after a fine approach left a simple birdie chance at the first, before fine bunker play at the third paved the way for another gain.

A bogey for Rose at five left Garcia three strokes clear, but the Englishman rolled in a birdie from the back of the sixth green and further gains followed at the next two holes to tie things up atop the leaderboard.

There was an uneasy, familiar sight when Garcia's round started to unravel after the turn.

He found trouble at the 10th and did well to make bogey out of the pine needles, but a poor hook off the 11th tee meant another dropped shot was soon forthcoming.

Garcia continued to toil but crucially made a fine par save on 13, as Rose missed what looked a straight-forward birdie chance.

That proved another momentum swinger as Garcia rediscovered his early crisp iron striking to set up birdie at 14, before a brilliant approach with his second at the par-five 15th - that seemed to nick the flag - was followed with a cool, dead-weight putt for eagle.

A birdie for Rose left them tied again at nine under, and once more the pendulum swung in his favour at 16 when he sank an eight-footer for birdie, while Garcia was too tentative with his shorter effort. 

Garcia was guilty of another poor stroke as he parred the 17th, but Rose - who had played a smart shot out of a greenside bunker - missed with a seven-foot putt for a four, leaving things level once again.

That brought it down the 18th and, after Rose received a favourable bounce to land on the dancefloor, Garcia struck a brilliant approach to five feet.

Rose missed his putt high from seven feet to gift Garcia the chance for glory, but the latter dramatically pushed his effort right.

Luckily for Garcia, the miss did not prove decisive. Rose failed to recover from pushing his tee shot in the play-off into the trees and, with two putts to win, Garcia sank a 12-footer to spark jubilant celebrations.