The 37-year-old Spaniard finally entered the major winner’s circle at the 74th attempt as he prevailed in a sudden death play-off with Justin Rose to the Masters in his 19th start.
With his victory, he can now lose the burdensome tag imposed on him for the best part of the last 15 years as the best player never to have won a major but Garcia said he always looked at that title as a plus point.
“The way I tried to look at it was in a positive way. Obviously, I like where I stand now better,” Garcia said following his winning putt at the first extra hole.
“But it’s always nice to be recognised or seen as the best player to not have won a major, because at least ‘best player’, there’s a good thing there,” he added with a chuckle.
“So that’s the way I looked at it.
“Well, I don’t have to answer that anymore. Now I’ll have to answer, I don’t know, if I’ll be ‘the best player to have only won one major’. But I can live with that.
“I have a beautiful life. Major or no major, I said it many, many times: I have an amazing life. I have so many people that care for me and love me and support me. I feel so nicely surrounded.
“And obviously this is something I wanted to do for a long time but, you know, it never felt like a horror movie. It felt like a little bit of a drama maybe, but obviously with a happy ending.”
Garcia’s victory makes him the third Spaniard to win the Masters after two-time Augusta champions Seve Ballesteros and José Maria Olazabal.
Poignantly, it would have been the late Ballesteros’s 60th birthday on Masters Sunday but Garcia gave the impression that of his two golfing heroes it was Olazabal’s help and encouragement that meant more to him. Olazabal had sent him a message at the start of the week which resonated with Garcia.
“I do have to say, it wasn’t only José Maria. A lot of great notes from family, friends, throughout the beginning of the week and a lot of cute and beautiful notes from my fiancée were stuck in the mirror of the bathroom.
“I think that obviously José Maria’s was very special because he’s my idol. He’s one; he and Seve are both my golfing idols since I was very, very little. You know, what he said, he mentioned, you know, just you know what you have to do, just believe in yourself.
“He did mention a couple of things that did kind of touched my heart a little bit. He said, ‘I’m not sharing my locker (in the Champions locker room) at the moment, and I hope that I get to do it with you.’ So if you guys wouldn’t mind putting me with José, it would be great,” Garcia asked of the Augusta National members.
“He’s a great man and we’ve had a great relationship for many, many years. To be able to join him and Seve as Masters champions from Spain, it’s unbelievable.”
Now Garcia has turned his focus on winning more tournaments, his Masters victory being his 22nd tour title in either Europe or the United States, although he said he believed there was much more successful golf to come.
“For me, the most positive thing is that I feel like I have so much room for improvement. So if I’m here and pretty much just started, I’m excited. I’m 37. I’m not 22 or 25 anymore, but I feel I still have a lot of great years in me. And I’m excited for those.”
An improbable par at the 13th provided the impetus for an unexpected charge.
Garcia and Rose had been butting heads since they were teenage stars in Europe some 20 years ago, and after the Spaniard pulled even with an eagle two holes later, this duel was extended to a playoff.
Both missed short birdie putts to win in regulation and returned to the 18th tee for the first extra hole. This time, the Englishman blinked first.
“Any time one of those guys gets that huge monkey off their back, I think it makes it a poignant major championship,” Rose said afterwards.
He could afford to be gracious, of course, having won a major at the U.S. Open in 2013.
But there were questions about the mutual respect between the long-time rivals. Not since 1998 have the last two players on the course gone to the 18th tied for the lead.
When they embraced at the last hole, Rose patted Garcia’s chest, calling attention to the heart some doubted would ever be stout enough to win the big one.
“It’s always a nice to be a part of history,” Rose added a moment later. “I would have liked to be the right part of it, but nevertheless I hope it’s a good one.”