Sergio Garcia was 0-for-73 in his major championship career.
He ended that drought with a win for the ages at Augusta National Golf Club in the 81st Masters on Sunday evening.
Garcia began the final round tied for the 54-hole lead with good friend and Ryder Cup teammate, Justin Rose.
While Garcia got off to a champion’s start, as the round unfolded, Rose made a charge and Garcia had a couple of costly blunders. Several times on the back nine, it looked as though Garcia was doomed to go 0-for-74 in majors.
But, he persisted and never once let up — not after trailing by two shots through 11 holes after leading by three through five holes; not after a tee shot into the bushes left of left on the par-5 13th, where he eventually made an all-world par; not after missing a short birdie putt on 16 to go one down with two to play.
Instead, like never before in his major career, Garcia kept bouncing back — like with that eagle on No. 15 when he hit the stick with his second shot and then made the 14-footer coming back to become the first Masters champion to eagle a hole on the back nine in the final round since his countryman, Jose Maria Olazabal in 1994.
Garcia was like Rocky Balboa on Sunday. Just took the hits, would hit the canvas, but never stayed down. He rolled with the punches, something he’s admittedly had difficulty with in majors through the years.
Chances are we’re never going to experience a pressure cooker like Garcia just did. But, that doesn’t mean that persistance won’t pay dividends for your own game no matter your level of ability.
PGA Professional Jeff Martin from Norton Country Club in Norton, Mass., gave us three keys for you to salvage a round that may not be going the way you hoped and turn it into something you can be proud of:
1. “What’s the first thing you want to do when you’re in an uncomfortable situation?” Martin asked. “If you’re like most people, you want to get it over with as quickly as possible. In golf, that means speeding up your swing and getting out of rhythm. That’s how lousy shots happen. People tend to get quick when they’re uncomfortable so they can get it over with. Sergio didn’t do that on Sunday. If you noticed, he took a lot of time — a lot of time before hitting a shot. He would take a nice, slow practice swing and get that rhythm back, which is so important. You should do that too. When the adrenaline is pumping, slow the moment down.”
2. “If you’re struggling — especially like we saw with Sergio on No. 10 and even the tee shot on No. 13 — you need to roll with the punches and continue to trust your go-to shot. For Sergio, that’s a fade. Just because it doesn’t work out once, doesn’t mean you give up on it. Trust it. It’s like the old adage: It’s easy to play good when you’re hitting good shots. When you’re struggling, stick with your stock shot. You might miss it a couple of times, but you’ll be surprised how fast it gets back on track if you trust it and continue to hit it.”
3. “Calm your nerves before the shot. That’s the biggest thing. Deep breathes. Close your eyes if you have to, but see the shot you want to hit before you step in to hit it. Did you see how under control Sergio looked in virtually every situation he faced on Sunday? That’s never happened before for him in a major. He didn’t get down even when it looked like he had every reason to be. He kept grinding and grinding and grinding and now he’s a major champion.”