The first tee-shot of a 2018 major championship is less than 48 hours away.

We’re trying to contain our excitement, just as we’re sure you are.

So before we get too far ahead, let’s go back and relive Sergio Garcia’s first major championship title last year.

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It was far from a racing start for Garcia, especially under the shadow of Charley Hoffman’s blistering 65, as he began with a modest 71 to sit six shots and three places off the lead.

Things improved on Friday, and right from the off. Garcia opened with three straight birdies to get within one of Hoffman, who began his second round with two bogeys. He dropped a shot on the par-three fourth but gained that back on the ninth as he went out in an impressive 33; he came back with an even-par 36 and his three-under 69 gave him his first taste of the lead, in a tie with Rickie Fowler, Thomas Pieters and Hoffman – who carded a poor 75 – at four-under.

Garcia broke away from that pack on moving day. A steady 70 was enough to move ahead of Fowler, Pieters and Hoffman who carded a 71, 75 and 72 respectively. But it was still not enough for the solo-lead as Justin Rose emerged from the pack with a 67 including seven birdies to square up to his fellow-European with 18 holes remaining.

From there, on Sunday, the lead never left the two front-runners. They began the day together at six-under and traded the leadership across the course of the final 18 holes. Garcia made the first move, with two birdies on the first three holes to move into the outright lead at minus-eight; that lead soon became three shots as Rose bogeyed the fifth after a poor long-putt.

That was the turning point for Rose, though, who immediately gained his shot back with a tee-shot to 10-feet on the par-three sixth that set up a birdie. He went on to stick an approach to two-feet on the next hole for a second consecutive birdie to cut the deficit to just one. Two birdies then became a momentum-shifting three. Rose made it a hat-trick of birdies on the eighth whilst Garcia failed to steal one of his own from eight-feet. Pars apiece finished an enthralling front-nine as the playing partners headed to the 10th with nothing to separate them – well ahead of their nearest challenger Fowler, three back. It looked to be all unravelling for Garcia when he made his first bogey in 19 holes on the 10th and fell out of the lead with Rose clutching onto par. With Amen Corner waiting Garcia needed inspiration from somewhere but he was not to find it on the 11th, as his tee-shot found the trees and he had to settle for two bogeys in two holes. Calm, collected and composed, Rose plotted another par to extent his lead to two. To make matters worse, young Pieters had found four straight birdies between 12 and 15 and now sat alongside the plummeting Garcia in second. Amen Corner wasn’t to punish Garcia any more as he, and Rose, mustered two pars through the 12th and 13th holes. When Garcia made his first birdie since the third on the 14th, it felt as though the tides might be turning. And turning they were. With a maiden major title slipping away, Garcia produced the most spectacular shot of the week, almost slam dunking his approach for albatross on the par-five 15th only for it to ricochet off the flag, that brought him an eagle to move to nine-under. Rose grabbed a birdie himself to move with Garcia, but that wouldn’t concern the Spaniard: he was back in the game.

 

The pair matched each other off the tee on 16 but, just as Garcia had regrouped, he let his grasp slip again by sliding his five-foot birdie attempt past the hole and watched Rose sink his. 

Rose at 10-under, Garcia at nine-under, there were two holes to play.

After finding the front bunker on the penultimate hole, Rose could only manage a bogey and dropped back to nine-under where he would rejoin Garcia who made a solid, and crucial, par.

Just as the round started, it was neck-and-neck on the 72nd tee. Likewise, the final hole played almost identically for the two. Both set up enticing birdies shouts and both failed to capitalise.

It would have to be settled by play-off and, with that, Garcia claimed his first Green Jacket and his first major championship. Rose’s drive into the trees meant he must chip out and that opened the door for Garcia to find the green in two and and seal the most pivotal birdie of his career.

At 37 years of age, Sergio Garcia was finally as Masters champion.

Cue scenes of jubilation.

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