AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Justin Rose was bloodied but unbowed after losing to Sergio Garcia in a dramatic playoff at the U.S. Masters on Sunday.
The Englishman and Spaniard went toe to toe in a thrilling duel at Augusta which ebbed and flowed until Rose drove into the trees at the first extra hole and Garcia drained a 10-foot birdie putt to win the title.
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, was proud of the way he coped with the pressure-cooker atmosphere, making five birdies and two bogeys in the cauldron of Augusta.
”I felt pretty much in control of my game and the tournament for the most part all day,“ Rose told reporters. ”It is going to sting for sure but I really feel that this is a tournament that I can win.
“Masters Sunday, it’s a special day. Being in the final group is an incredible experience. The crowd, there’s a lot of energy out there,” he added.
“It came down to the back nine on Sunday here, which is what this tournament is famous for. It must have been fun to watch.”
Rose put together rock-solid rounds of 71, 72, 67 and 69 to finish level with Garcia on nine under par and the Englishman was delighted for his opponent to land his first major title at the 74th attempt.
“Sergio and I have played a lot of golf together since we were 14 years old,” said Rose, 36, who has been a team mate with Garcia on four European Ryder Cup teams.
“We have a great friendship and a good rivalry. It is good for him to have the monkey off his back and I am very pleased for him.”
Rose has come a long way since springing to prominence as a 17-year-old amateur when he holed a shot from the rough at the final hole to finish tied fourth in the 1998 British Open.
He turned professional but initially struggled, missing 21 consecutive cuts and losing his European Tour card in 2000.
Rose regrouped quickly, however, and has established himself as one of the game’s leading players, now ranked 14th in the world.
His victory in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion confirmed his place among golf’s elite players and he finished runner-up to Jordan Spieth in the 2015 Masters.
He has played in four Ryder Cups, including the 2012 “Miracle at Medinah” when he beat five-times major champion Phil Mickelson in the singles to help Europe recover from 10-6 down to defeat the United States in one of sport’s great comebacks.
The Olympic gold medal at last year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro was another significant landmark for Rose who believes he is at the peak of his powers.
“When I won at Merion I looked at it as I’ve got 40 majors in my prime and how many can I pick off,” he said.
“I still have 20 or so left that I feel really primed and ready for.”
Editing by Andrew Both