Justin Rose had one arm in his first Masters green jacket.
He had withstood a charge by Sergio Garcia to take a one-shot lead with a birdie at No. 16. But his drive on 17 went into the pine trees on the right. He got his second shot into the bunker that is in front of the green, blasted out to 7 feet, but missed the par putt to the right. The bogey dropped him back to 9 under and into a tie with Garcia.
Both players missed short birdie putts on 18, sending them to a playoff. Once again, Rose mishit a drive to the right. Once again, he was in woods. His ball came to rest just in front of a pinecone, and limbs just in front. He said it would have been impossible for him to flight and spin the ball. He was just focused on making par.
Once again he made bogey.
Garcia made birdie. The green jacket was his.
“Could I have made the putt on 17? Of course I could,” Rose said. “But for the most part, I’m not going to sit here and second guess one or two shots. I really stepped up. I felt great. I felt in control. I felt positive. I felt confident.”
Though he said the loss stings, Rose said he couldn’t be happier for the friend he has had since both were playing amateur golf as teenagers.
“Well, I think, you know, Sergio is obviously the best player not to have won a major, no longer,” Rose said. “That’s a great ‑‑ any time one of those types of players, there’s a handful of them, and any time one of those guys gets that huge monkey off their back, I think it makes it a poignant major championship.”
The two players realized around No. 13 that it was a two-man battle for the win. Rose was leading Garcia by two strokes as they stood on the tee box.
Both players parred the hole, but Garcia stole the momentum with an 8-foot par putt. Rose missed his 6-foot birdie putt and had to settle for par.
“That little two‑shot swing there was kind of when he was back in the tournament,” Rose said.
Garcia birdied 14 to get within a shot of Rose, who parred it.
Momentum shifted again on 15. Garcia’s second shot landed 14 feet from the flag. He made the eagle putt, sending roars around the corner of the course. Rose birdied. Both players were tied at 9 under.
At 16, Garcia’s tee shot landed 6 feet from the flag. He missed his birdie putt. Rose’s tee shot landed 8 feet away. He made his birdie putt to take a one-shot lead that he coughed up on 17.
Rose said this loss doesn’t mean he will never win the Masters. He said he wants several green jackets, but would settle for one. It would be his second major, joining the 2013 U.S. Open.
“You know, barring a great comeback from Sergio, it was mine to cruise to the house,” Rose said. “But it’s not always that easy. At the end of the day, you’re going to win ‑‑ always said, before I won at Merion, you’re going to win majors and you’re going to lose majors but you’ve got to be willing to lose them.”