So close: Justin Rose comes up short in bid for green jacket

Sergio Garcia celebrates after defeating Justin Rose on the first playoff hole during the final round of the The Masters on April 9, 2017, in Augusta, Georgia.

He took off his cap and stood to the side of the green, resigned to his fate.

Garcia had the best chance to win on the 18th when he missed a putt from close range, as Rose had already missed from an earlier distance. "I think they realised that he paid his dues, he's been close so many times and they probably were pulling for him to pull through on this occasion".

Rose was two shots ahead when Garcia bogeyed the 10th and 11th, but on what would have been the 60th birthday of Seve Ballesteros, his fellow Spaniard Garcia crucially saved par after an errant drive and penalty shot on the 13th.

The week before Garcia's first Open as a professional, 18 years ago at Carnoustie, I was sent to the east coast of Scotland to interview him for a now-defunct magazine called Total Sport.

Deadlocked after nine holes, the two friends and rivals produced an enthralling back nine showdown worthy of any Masters final round in what became a head-to-head battle after the other challengers fell away. He missed several short putts in the final round that average hackers would have sunk blindfolded, but he did it anyway.

But Rose isn't going to beat himself up too much. He sank it. Even better was to come on the Par 5 15th, where Garcia's 8-iron approach from 177 yards clipped the flagstick and he rolled in the eight footer for eagle. I felt fantastic out there.

"You can't feel bad for me", said Rose.

In the end, it wasn't enough.

Garcia is no longer that 19-year-old with curly hair and freckles, sprinting up the fairway at Medinah as he tried to chase down Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.

There's Jordan Spieth, who "obviously has a special relationship the Masters", Rose said. He deserves it, he's had his fair share of heartache.

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The players returned to the 18th and Rose was unable to save par after pushing his drive into the trees and hitting a poor recovery, but Garcia finished an unforgettable day in style by holing from 12 feet for birdie. Advantage Sergio. After Rose had putted out for a bogey, Garcia had two putts to win.

Rose, who also closed with a 69, graciously patted Garcia's cheek before they embraced.

Garcia is a huge Real Madrid soccer fan, and club legend Luis Figo was on hand to help celebrate in Augusta.

"It's always a nice to be a part of history", he added a moment later.

"That little two-shot swing there was kind of when he was back in the tournament", Rose said. When Rose had a six-foot par-saver at 17, he pushed it slightly - the bogey that left them tied again headed to the 72nd tee.

Going 0-for-73 in majors will do that to even one of the game's most remarkable ball-strikers. The leaders after day three broke away from the pack, setting up for an exciting finish that could only be decided by a playoff. So that's the way I looked at it.

But the lead remained at two, and Garcia had new life. Rose then saved par with a subsequent short putt. "I feel like if he misses at that point, I make, I'm four clear". When asked later if he thought he was going to get his first major, Garcia snapped, "Next question, please".

For the playoff, they played the hole known as Holly again.

Positive, happy and calm were not attributes one would normally have used to describe the 37-year-old Garcia on the golf course prior to this week.

"I mean, I can't pick holes in my performance". Remember, these are not the best careers of golfers who do not have majors but rather the best golfers now playing who have not won one.

Rose certainly had his chances in this one.

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