Oh, Sergio! How Master winner Garcia proved me wrong after all these years | Scott Murray

After 73 failed attempts to win a major Sergio Garca ultimately came good at Augusta National and took the Master having seemingly hurled his challenge away once again

On reflection it was wrong to say we had been waiting for this since 1999. It was not a thing in 1999 at all. When the precocious 19 -year-old charmer Sergio Garca announced himself by manufacturing a six iron to the green from behind a tree at that years US PGA Championship, sprinting up the fairway after it, then running Tiger Woods close in a near-miracle at Medinah, it was simply presumed he would go on insouciantly to gather up armfuls of major titles just like Tiger. But it did not work out like that.

Since then Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, Geoff Ogilvy, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Webb Simpson, Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir have won majors fine players but none possessing the innate panache of Sergio. Ah well, the nature of golf. But no wonder Garca at one point mentally gave up the ghost, publicly declaring he did not possess the moxie to get the job done.

The warning signs started to flashing at the 2007 Open. Sergio played the third round at Carnoustie, during which he established a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker and a six-shot advantage over Padraig Harrington, in garish amber and red. The Ronald McDonald aesthetic was a harbinger of events to come. Our Pulitzer-winning fourth-round hole-by-hole report started with a checklist for Sergio: 1. DO NOT WEAR AN ALL-YELLOW OUTFIT. 2. DO NOT COCK IT UP LIKE A CLOWN. PLEASE. He complied with part one at least, sporting a tasteful lime-green top with white trousers. Our live blog finished with a resigned sigh: Oh, Sergio!

To be conscientiously fair, Sergio had not cocked it up like a clown at all; it is just very hard to win a major championship. Our blog also details the eventual win, Harrington, nearly throwing it away himself, dumping his ball into the burn at the 18 th while nervously chomping on his tongue like hed just ingested a huge container of speed.

But Oh, Sergio! would become a recurring cry through the years, a refrain seemingly designed to be sung forever and never fade away, like the coda to Hey Jude.

Sergio was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard at the 2007 US PGA. A year later at the same event he found water at the 16 th while leading; his nemesis, Harrington, prevailed again. At the 2014 Open he chased down the leader Rory McIlroy, taking advantage of a huge violate which watched him slice an iron deep into a grandstand only for the ball to clatter back on to the apron of the green, from where he scrambled par. But he gave up on a splashing from a bunker at the 15 th and another race was run. Hes visibly deflated, staring at the floor , noted the report. Can you ensure a thousand yards past the floor?

Arguably the most Sergio-esque Sergical? moment did not even occur in one of the big four tournaments. At the 2013 Players Championship at Sawgrass, the unofficial fifth major, he was neck and neck with Tiger on reaching the iconic island-green 17 th. Two balls in the drink led to a quadruple bogey. He doubled the last, merely to make sure.

The Masters that year was special, too. He shot an opening-round 66, the big pester, and in a brazen great efforts to tempt fate in his prefer, the buffoon who helms these hole-by-hole reports introduced Sergios Official Masters Meltdown-o-Meter, designed to gauge his current state of mind. A was happy Sergio; B seemed slightly pensive; C pictured our hero kicking off his shoes, flinging clubs and( artistic licence here) kicking a cat in a fit of impotent pique.

By the time he pulled his approach at the 11 th into the drink after wiggling around over the ball for so long he made Kevin Na look like Julius Boros, the hole-by-hole report had slipped into a minimalist funk of its own: I have nothing else to say other than C.

Oh

It got to the point where all hope was pretty much run. Even before Sundays final round, after three days of steely Sergio resolve, few HBH readers were prepared to give in to positivity. Sergio fan Simon Farnaby who knows a thing or two about golfing losers having co-authored this tome emailed: I hope it does get to Amen Corner. But it wont even get there, Im afraid. Hell doubled bogey 4, then fizzle away and we wont see him again until he holes out on 18. This is a man who, over the last two decades, are frequently expended sums equivalent to the annual GDP of Yorkshire in backing the man. Superstitious regular contributor Hubert OHearn, in the wake of Sergios good present on Thursday, was reduced to wearing the same clothes all week; his puppy began look at this place him in a pitying manner.

Sergio being Sergio, he did all the things we feared he would do: ship the leading round Amen Corner, whistle drives into shrubs, yip crucial short putts in a tentative panic. Readers rapidly resorted to tried-and-trusted coping mechanisms. I was hoping Sergio could make this years heartbreak more stylish and sophisticated, sighed James Ferguson. He is doing a good job of it so far. Just the right amount of false hope. This one is really going to hurt, isnt it?

Simon McMahon was at the bargaining stage of grief: If the unthinkable actually happened, what would we have done in June, July and August? Every cloud, eh? Elliot Carr-Barnsley, meanwhile, turned up late to the party and wondered: On a scale of one to 10, how likely am I to find the phrase Oh, Sergio! written here if I CTRL+ F it?

But Sunday evening was different. Sergio regrouped, scrambled pars, holed putts, held his nerve. With a glorious narrative purity harking back to Medinah he salvaged not one but two situations from behind trees. He made that eagle. And this time, he got there. Sergio Garca: major champion.

I was too busy shedding happy tears to post Ian Trumans email, which is an nasty disgrace as it caught the mood of the HBH inbox. This is for us. All of us. 73 preambles worth of mentioning Sergio but never quite believing it. For getting our hopes up on Saturday afternoons. For kicking our cats as a hundred short putts missed low. All for this. Oh, Sergio, you hero.

Of course, Sergio being Sergio, there is a bittersweet aftertaste. Could he not have beaten Jordan Spieth? Or Phil Mickelson, or Bubba, or someone else who has a Green Jacket? Because now I have started to worry about Justin Rose the sport, gentlemanly Justin Rose never fulfilling his undoubted Masters promise. Thumbs traversed he will do it next year. He will do it some year, wont he? Oh, Justin!

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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