Masters 2017: Stars align for Garcia in victory


Front-runners

The stars couldn’t have aligned any better for Sergio Garcia’s first major title.

Sunday would have been the late two-time champ Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday. Ballesteros took a young Garcia under his wing 20 years ago and some of Garcia’s best golf moments have been with Ballesteros in the Ryder Cup.

Garcia appeared to change momentum with an eagle at No. 15. The last time a Masters champ had a back-nine eagle on Sunday was Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal in 1994.

Garcia had also arrived at Augusta to find that his caddie’s bib number was 89, the same as 2016 champion Danny Willett’s a year ago and the same as Jack Nicklaus’ in his famous 1986 sixth Masters title.

“It’s amazing,” Garcia said in his first post-round interview on CBS. “To do it on his 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.”

Three times a Spanish golfer has led or been tied for the lead after 54 holes at Augusta National and all three times they won the title. Garcia won on the first extra hole of a playoff against Justin Rose.

Year; Golfer; Rd.;

1980; Seve Ballesteros; 72;

1999; J.M. Olazabal; 71;

2017; Sergio Garcia; 69;

ATL-transplant

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, who finished 4-over 292 and in 32nd place, is looking for a home and golf club in the Atlanta area.

Fitzpatrick is moving to the city because his girlfriend, Lydia Cassada, is likely to get a job here.

Fitzpatrick, 22,said that there are so many nice golf courses in the area that he’ll affiliate himself with whichever one will have him.

“I’m going to take my time on it all and try to figure it out,” he said.

Fitzpatrick, a native of Sheffield, England, said he might also become a fan of Atlanta United, but it would be hard to leave his favorite club, Sheffield United.

Senior moments

Fred Couples, 57, got off to a great start but stumbled in, shooting 72-289 and finished tied for for18.

“So I got it going (on the front nine in 33) and the back nine is just really a hard nine,” he said. “I don’t play 13 and 15 particularly well. Everyone thinks you should birdie them. And I three-putted 16 four straight days in a row and maybe one of them was a tough putt. The other ones I’ve had every year. So that’s kind of hard to swallow, four bogeys there and you’re on the green. Other than that, I had a good time.”

The other two Champions Tour players who made the cut were 1987 Masters champ Larry Mize (Georgia Tech) and Steve Stricker, who just turned 50 a few weeks ago. Stricker shot 68 on Sunday and finished tied for 16th, a great conclusion after a second and a third-place tie in his first two Champions Tour starts.

Georgia on mind

Georgia had the most alums in the field with four, two of therm making the cut. Georgia Tech had three, two making the cut. How they finished:

Georgia

-Russell Henley-69-287-T11

-Kevin Kisner-73-296-T43

Georgia Tech

-Matt Kuchar-67-283-T4

-Larry Mize-76-305-52

He said it

“It’s one of those places, when everything’s going your way, you love it; and when they’re not working out, you want to take your ball and go home.” — Former UGA golfer Kevin Kisner on Augusta National.

Money talk

How have the the champions’ winnings progressed through the years? An aside: 50th place this year is $27,720 or $7,720 more than Nicklaus won for the title in 1963.

Year; Money; Champ;

1934; $1,500; Horton Smith;

1946; $2,500; Herman Keiser;

1958; $11,250; Arnold Palmer;

1963; $20,000; Jack Nicklaus;

1974; $35,000; Gary Player;

1986; $144,000; Jack Nicklaus;

1997; $486,000; Tiger Woods;

2004; $1,170,000; Phil Mickelson;

2013; $1,440,000; Adam Scott;

2016; $1,800,000; Danny Willett;

2017: $1,980,000; Sergio Garcia;

Majors lookahead

-117th U.S. Open:Erin Hills, Erin, Wis., June 15-18

-146th British Open:Royal Birkdale, Southport, England, July 20-23

-99th PGA Championship:Quail Hollow Country Club, Charlotte, N.C., Aug. 10-13

-Tour Championship:East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Sept. 21-24



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Remembering the Tennessee players who were recruited by Alabama
Remembering the Tennessee players who were recruited by Alabama

Tennessee and Alabama facing off likely won’t feature the heated rivalry the third Saturday in October is known for. Alabama has dominated the matchup of late. The last time the Vols beat the Crimson Tide was a 16-13 victory in 2006. Let’s look at two examples where Tennessee has beaten Alabama recently … off the field. RELATED:...
Kirk Herbstreit credits Penn State as ‘one of the first’ places with College GameDay signs
Kirk Herbstreit credits Penn State as ‘one of the first’ places with College GameDay signs

Over the years, fan signs on College GameDay have become as much of a staple as Lee Corso putting on a mascot head at the end of the show. They’re one of the big reasons a lot of people tune in, and they give fan bases the chance to talk trash and/or show off wit. But it wasn’t always that way. In the earlier years...
Oklahoma football: Questions loom as Sooners head to Kansas State
Oklahoma football: Questions loom as Sooners head to Kansas State

It’s been a week since Oklahoma’s grueling victory over Texas. It’s had enough time to recover for Kansas State on Saturday. One of the pillars of former coach Bob Stoops’ tenure was his teams never experienced lulls following the Red River Showdown. Some of the Sooners’ best performances came...
LOOK: LSU tracks down Ed Orgeron’s favorite cook in Oxford, gives her Tigers shirt
LOOK: LSU tracks down Ed Orgeron’s favorite cook in Oxford, gives her Tigers shirt

On Tuesday, LSU coach Ed Orgeron revealed just how little he misses his time at Ole Miss, although he fondly recalls chicken-on-a-stick at one particular gas station. “No, you know, I used to stop at the Exxon and get a chicken-on-a-stick, and they were fantastic,” Orgeron said on Tuesday. “I hope that...
Report: Texas A&M and Texas to renew basketball rivalry in exhibition for Hurricane Harvey relief
Report: Texas A&M and Texas to renew basketball rivalry in exhibition for Hurricane Harvey relief

Texas is back! On the Texas A&M basketball schedule, that is. According to a report from Logan Lee of TexAgs, the Aggies and Longhorns are renewing their basketball rivalry for a great cause. The game, which is expected to be officially announced in the coming days following clearance form the NCAA is scheduled to be played next Wednesday...
More Stories