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Viva El Nino

Sergio Garcia stuns the doubters with his first major title.

Evan "The Hoss" Waldt, Sports Writer

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When Sergio Garcia busted onto the scene as an amateur in the 1999 Masters and months later in the famous battle with Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship, people were certain he was going to win loads of major championships. Not only that, “El Nino” was destined to compete and challenge the records of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, the two greatest icons of the sport. Although, as time went on, we saw Sergio come so close in majors, but just never could seal the deal. He had his fair share of success when it came to the wins he had acquired on the European and PGA tour, but what people really wanted to see was his first major breakthrough.

Sergio had his chances to accomplish this feat and get over this hump that had lasted for what many people thought was too long. His best chance to win was at The Open Championship in Carnoustie where he had a short, makeable putt on the final hole to close out Padraig Harrington and win his first major title. He missed the putt and Padraig Harrington went on to win the first of his major titles, and this was a candidate that wasn’t supposed to even compete with Sergio. Soon after, due to the missed putt at Carnoustie along with some others, Garcia had developed a new reputation.

Now Sergio was known not only for being the most prominent player without a major, but he was also known for being the biggest choke artist of his time. Yes, it seems harsh, but time and time again he proved this reputation to be true and onlookers would count him out if he went into Sunday with a lead. At times in his life, you can tell this got to Sergio. There were instances where he got into screaming wars with fans and even made racist comments about a high ranked competitor, Tiger Woods. Many people didn’t like Sergio throughout his career because of such instances, but I think most of it was a result of misunderstanding based off of Sergio Garcia’s tendencies to make excuses and lash out on others because of his own faults.

Now 37, Sergio has reached his later years and has been competing in the game of golf for just under 20 years. He’s found a new calm in him and you can tell the Sergio now is not the same Sergio he was 20 years ago. When Sergio Garcia had the 54 hole lead at the 2017 Masters, I think it is safe to say people were rooting for him. He hit great shot after great shot on Sunday, and when he made a mistake late in the round and everyone thought he was about to choke again, he persevered and came back to recover. He battled until the end and had a 5 foot putt on the final hole to win. He missed. But as he made his way to the playoff hole, he didn’t hang his head and blame countless things as he did in the past, he birdied the playoff hole in dramatic fashion. It is safe to say there would be no better Masters champion.

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