Sergio Garcia's Masters victory wasn't without controversy.

The Spaniard won his first major title at the 74th attempt at Augusta on Monday, breaking the second longest major drought in golf history. But it so easily could have been taken away from him.

Garcia hit a wayward tee shot into the bushes on the par-five 13th on the final day and was forced to take a drop. But before he lined up for his second stroke (his third on the scorecard with the penalty) he tried to move some pine needles around his ball.

A close-up shot of his ball suggests something caused it to move just a tiny bit, which according to golf's rules, would incur a one-shot penalty. However, the incident went largely unnoticed until a viewer reportedly called officials, alerting them to the matter.


On Tuesday former professional golfer Brett Ogle spoke about the dramatic moment.

"There was a bit of controversy around this. You can go back to the 13th where he (Garcia) drove it left into the bush and took an unplayable lie," Ogle said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

"Once again a camera got a close-up of when he took the drop and he was moving a few pine needles and the ball moved just ever so slightly. If you have a look at it you can see the ball move just a little bit.

"(There were) phone calls into the Augusta National people and they had a look at it and said the ball didn't move. But if you take a look at it you can clearly see the ball move a tiny little bit so there's a bit of controversy around it."

Garcia was tied with Englishman Justin Rose at the time, who he went on to defeat on the first playoff hole after the pair finished equal at the end of the fourth round. Garcia made par on the extra hole and fortunately for the Spaniard, officials refused to intervene and he was spared the heartbreak of being robbed of a maiden major crown.

The incident was reminiscent of the controversy that erupted last week at the women's ANA Inspiration event in California.

American Lexi Thompson was in the lead during the final round when she was told she was being penalised four strokes for an infraction the day before that had been spotted by a TV viewer.

Video showed Thompson marking her ball on the 17th green, then placing the ball back in ever so slightly different relation to the coin prior to a putt of less than two feet.

She was assessed a two-shot penalty for the infraction, and two shots for signing an incorrect scorecard. "Is this a joke," Thompson said. "That's just ridiculous."

The penalty saw her finish level with South Korea's Ryu So-Yeon, who went on to win the tournament with a birdie on the first playoff hole.


Judging by the crowd's reaction on the 18th at Augusta, Garcia was a popular winner.

The 37-year-old has been around the PGA Tour for nearly two decades and before Monday was widely considered the best player never to win a major. The wait only made his eventual victory that much sweeter, and golf fans all over rejoiced in his breakthrough win.

But Ogle, whose professional career spanned more than 15 years, is no fan of Garcia, saying the performance he puts on for the cameras is a facade that hides his true character.

"I think he's a little bit over the top and a bit of a wally. I just found him up himself," Ogle said. "He comes across a lot nicer (on TV) than what he is in real life.

"He's alright with the other players but when the public wants a bit of him he tends to brush them sideways. I've seen that happen on numerous occasions. I don't like that, I don't like that a lot."

Garcia believes his Masters victory can be the springboard to more success after years of near-misses.

He woke up after only about four hours sleep following prolonged celebrations of his green jacket triumph and he doesn't intend to stop enjoying it any time soon.

"The party was good," the Spaniard said in an interview with Golf Digest. "Everything that happened it has been an amazing experience ... now I just have to enjoy it as much as possible." Garcia was still coming to terms with becoming a major champion, a feat which will push him up to No. 7 in the world rankings.

"I don't know if it hasn't sunk in or something but it doesn't feel that different. Obviously I am very proud but I feel like the same guy ... I haven't changed."

He told reporters that, while he wasn't getting any younger, he still had "so much room for improvement".

"Obviously I'm 37. I'm not 22 or 25 anymore, but I feel I still have a lot of great years in me and I'm excited for those.

"Everybody that is around me is helping me, making me not only a better golfer but a better person.

"It's not easy, because I know how much of a hard-headed man I can be sometimes, but it's been great."