Masters champions interviewed: James Haddock with Sergio Garcia
By James Haddock
Last Updated: 10/04/20 2:40pm
In the penultimate part of James Haddock's favourite five interviews with Masters winners, he remembers Sergio Garcia finally getting over the line in a major in 2017...
Having made 74 major starts, April 10, 2017, was the Sunday a certain Spaniard's whole career had built towards.
I was stood by the 18th green, the 73rd hole of the 81st Masters Tournament - but the most important number for Sergio Garcia, he finished first, claiming his first major title resulting in him using every ounce of energy in his body to let out a victory scream like we've rarely seen before.
It was pure emotion, years of frustration at not winning a major when he'd given himself so many opportunities.
He'd calmed down a little by the time he entered the Grill Room of the clubhouse at Augusta National Golf Club hours after that iconic moment on course. Adjusting his jacket by the lapels as he walked through the door, it wasn't that it didn't fit well, he just couldn't prevent himself from touching it, straightening it up and strutting (as he rightly should) in golf's most prestigious piece of clothing - as a Masters champion.
There was a joy and infectious happiness about Sergio in this moment that I can only liken to how I felt when my first child was born. He couldn't stop smiling, ear to ear - as happy as I had ever seen him. He was intoxicated by the winning feeling, dazed and dizzy with the elation of victory.
What added to the emotion and the significance for him in no small part was that it would have been Seve Ballesteros' 60th birthday on that day. Seve was his hero, the first Spaniard to win the Masters in 1980. He'd also win in 1983 and Jose Maria Olazabal, a mentor to Sergio, won it too in 1994 and 1999.
So to join that group, to be a part of a very exclusive club was the career-defining moment for Garcia. His boundless enthusiasm and energy in the room was tempered a little as he spoke about Seve and what he'd done for his professional career.
"The support out there was incredible," he said of the patrons on that final day, it was a charged atmosphere for sure. The sportsmanship shown between Sergio and Justin Rose, who he would beat in the play-off, added to it even more.
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Garcia spoke about how special it was to win, but how major or no major, he had an amazing life - that was true, but there was no getting away from it - this was the cherry on top!
As with all of my winners' interviews at Augusta there's a "congratulations, Masters Champion" and I ask them to sign a flag or two to auction for a children's hospital charity of which I am a patron. Each time those words are uttered along with the sight of the famous yellow pin flag, it brings a big smile to their face - this one as much as any I'd seen before.