Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts with fiancee Angela Akins after winning the Masters in a sudden death playoff over Justin Rose of England during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. EPA

MADRID: Spain paid homage to new Masters champion Sergio Garcia on Monday after he broke his duck on the biggest stage of all to add a first major to his glittering career.

“Finally!” blared the headline in Madrid sports daily Marca as for once the football stars of Real Madrid were relegated to the inside pages.

“Sergio Garcia wins the Masters in Augusta, the major he has so deserved for the past 18 years.”

Garcia on Sunday became the third Spanish player to wear the famous green jacket after Jose Maria Olazabal and the legendary Seve Ballesteros, who died in 2011, on what would have been Ballesteros’s 60th birthday.

“At 37 Sergio broke the curse that lasted nearly two decades since he was second at the USPGA in a battle with Tiger Woods at 19,” Madrid’s other sports daily AS said in its online edition.

“Already admired, victory in the 2017 Masters changes the golfing wold’s perceptions of the Spanish player,” added El Pais.

Prior to beating out England’s Justin Rose in a sudden-death playoff after a thrilling final round, Garcia had been known for a series of near-misses at major championships.

As well as losing out to Woods in his prime at the USPGA in 1999, Garcia was runner-up at the 2007 and 2014 Open Championships and the 2008 PGA.

However, he finally delivered by rolling home a birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

Many of Spain’s other sporting greats joined in the congratulations.

“Dear friends, I introduce you to the Master champion in Augusta!! CONGRATULATIONS @TheSergioGarcia,” tweeted Spain’s World Cup winning football captain Iker Casillas.

“How great is @TheSergioGarcia, very emotional after so many years fighting so hard! Many congratulations, what joy!” tweeted 14-time tennis Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal.--AFP

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