“I thought Sergio played very composed, played very well, and he played like he wasn’t going to be denied – even after he made a couple mistakes”.

“I knew I was playing well”, he said, the green jacket draped across the Spaniard’s slim shoulders.

Rose, meanwhile, paid tribute to his friend following his playoff defeat: “I’m disappointed but I don’t know quote how I feel”, he told BBC Sport.

“I’m thrilled to be standing here this late, this Sunday evening”, Garcia said.

Six-time victor Jack Nicklaus hailed Sergio Garcia’s victory in the Masters as “sensational” but admitted he feared the Spaniard was facing more major misery.

“It would be wonderful, something hard to describe but we still have one day to go”.

Blessed by abundant natural talent, and nurtured by two of the greats of Spanish golf in Seve Ballesteros and Jose-Maria Olazabal, Garcia was seemingly destined to win major titles.

“To join my two idols is something special”.

He did both when a major moment arrived on the 13th when his drive wound up under a bush. On the par-5 hole, Garcia was able to get his ball back onto the fairway and save par. But, he hit wedge to 7 feet and escaped with par. I don’t have the thing I need to have.

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel birdied the final hole to sign for a round of 68 and sole possession of third place on 6-under.

South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters victor, was third on 282 with Matt Kuchar, who aced the par-3 16th, and Masters newcomer Thomas Pieters of Belgium in fourth on 283. Spieth shot a 75, Fowler a 76. Rose was just over the back of the green in two, in position to turn a two-shot lead into four. Adam Scott, the 2013 champ, worked his way up to 3 under and three strokes back with his second straight 69 on Saturday.

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Day has struggled in recent weeks, his best finish in his last three tournaments was a tie for 23rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month. Defending champion Danny Willett missed the cut, while world No. 1 Dustin Johnson was forced to withdraw before the first round with a back injury.

“You can’t feel bad for me”, said Rose.

Rose led by one stroke after a birdie on No. 16, but relinquished that lead on No. 17 with a bogey, setting up the dramatic finish. “It’s always fun when you’re playing with one of your good buddies”. “And I hit one of the best putts I hit all week”. “I’m telling you, it was so freakish that I didn’t feel one nerve. I have a attractive life, major or no major”.

And then, after two smoked drives at 18, two putts: Rose from eight feet to the right of the pin, which slid by. Of course I could. I really stepped up. Sergio and Justin played great golf. Not for a revived Garcia who said he had come to terms with the fact that a major title might never come. The centerpiece was a scrambling par at No. 13 that required the kind of grit even he must have doubted he had.

But a key to the match was what happened over the next 10 minutes: Garcia punched his third shot down in front of the green, then coldly got up and down for par, the save of his life.

“In order to win this golf tournament you have to play to win”. The first two days were an outright war, and then we got the goods on the weekend.

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That year, Nicklaus’ caddie – his son – wore the number 89. Last year’s victor, Willett, had No. 89 for his bib number.

Said Justin Rose, whom Garcia defeated on the first playoff hole: “If there’s anyone to lose to, it would be Sergio”.

Garcia’s popular victory at Augusta came after an escape worthy of the swashbuckling Ballesteros.

All Garcia had to do was two-putt.

His outstanding ball-striking was evident all week, his putter trustworthy. Garcia was low amateur at the Masters that year. In 13, 14 and 15, Garcia had found his Amen Corner. “I was like, ‘Well, if that’s what’s supposed to happen, let it happen”.