Apr 10, 2017

UFC 210: Dana White insists female fighter Pearl Gonzalez’s debut bout goes ahead despite breast implants

American is due to fight Cynthia Calvillo on the main card of UFC 210

UFC insist Pearl Gonzalez’s debut fight with Cynthia Calvillo on Saturday night is on despite her breast implants posing a medical risk.

The American is due to make her debut on Saturday on the main card of UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York.

But, after Gonzalez had her weigh-in where she sneaked just under the 115.9-pound limit, it was revealed that she had previous surgery to enhance her breasts.

Boxing rules state: “Due to the concern over rupture, boxers who have breast implants are not eligible to box in New York.

“Women who have had breast reduction surgery are, however, eligible to compete.”

However it seems the MMA rules differ and boss Dana White has Tweeted emphatically to insist the bout goes ahead.

He wrote: “STOP listening to web sites and whoever. If u don’t hear it from us it’s probably not true. THIS FIGHT IS ON!!!!

Birmingham woman standing in defiance of EDL protester goes viral

A photograph showing a young woman smiling bemusedly at an incensed English Defence League protester has been widely shared as a symbol of Birmingham’s defiance in the face of the far right.

The image, which has been shared thousands of times on social media, was captured during a demonstration by the far-right group in Birmingham city centre on Saturday. It shows a man, wearing an EDL T-shirt, staring into the eyes of the young woman, who is looking back at him unfazed. A police officer appears to be restraining the man.

The woman pictured has been identified as Saffiyah Khan, a Birmingham resident. She told the BBC that when the picture was taken, she had stepped forward to defend a friend who had been surrounded by a group of men.

“I don’t like seeing people getting ganged up on in my town,” Khan said. She added that she was “quite surprised” by the reaction to the photo.

The EDL demonstration attracted around 100 people, and was condemned by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative leaders of Birmingham city council, who said the group was not and never would be welcome in their city.

The demonstration saw a heavy police presence, including riot vans. West Midlands police said two people, thought to be counter-protesters, had been arrested for alleged breaches of the peace.

Tweeting the photograph, Birmingham MP Jess Phillips wrote: “Who looks like they have power here, the real Brummy on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate?” Her tweet had been shared and liked nearly 18,000 times by Sunday evening.

Journalist and television host Piers Morgan dubbed the picture “photo of the week” and shared it on social media with the caption: “Enraged EDL racist stared down by amused, contemptuous Asian woman.”

In an event organised to counter the EDL protest, Birmingham central mosque held a “Best of British” tea party, complete with union jack bunting, tea and cake.

Addressing the estimated 300 people who attended, local MP Liam Byrne said the event celebrated “the quiet miracle of a normal life and the things that we love most about our city and our country”.

“Getting together as friends, getting together as neighbours, breaking a bit of Victoria sponge and having a cup of tea,” he added. “That is a potent, powerful message that we will send to those who seek to divide us.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helps Manchester United stroll past poor Sunderland

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had stated he is a “lion among pussycats” and sure enough Manchester United’s leading light delighted in helping devour David Moyes’s Black Cats as JosĂ© Mourinho’s players sustained their hopes of a top-four finish.

After the final whistle sounded Ibrahimovic decided he was not really a run-of-the-mill mortal after all, informing an interviewer that he “felt like Benjamin Button” the fictional character who, living life in reverse, became younger rather than older. How Sunderland’s manager must wish he could turn the clock back and erase those unfortunate comments he directed at the BBC’s Vicki Sparks last month. Instead he is contemplating an imminent Football Association sanction while also facing the looming reality of Championship football after this deconstruction by the club who sacked him three years ago.

Ten points adrift of 17th place, the Wearside club’s cause appears increasingly hopeless following 90 minutes in which they created little more than half-chances and were severely hampered by Seb Larsson’s highly controversial sending-off just before half-time.

Whether that red card changed the destination of the three points is doubtful. Sunderland were already losing thanks to Ibrahimovic’s opener on a day when, not for the first time, the Swede’s magnetic presence masked the reality that prolonged parts of United’s overall performance were actually a little stodgy.

Their team-sheet had made interesting reading. There was no David de Gea, who was either slightly injured or dropped depending on whom one believed – Marouane Fellaini was captain, Marcus Rashford initially warmed the bench and Luke Shaw started at left-back.

After being the subject – or should that be victim? – of a distinctly dubious bout of man-management on Mourinho’s part in midweek, Shaw began in such hyper-mode it seemed as if he must have had a caffeine overdose. He always appeared to be on the ball and it smacked of a player desperate to impress, never more so than when he was shown a yellow card for ploughing through the back of the similarly lively Didier Ndong. Across in the dugout Mourinho pulled a face.

Subplots aside, it was a resolutely downbeat opening which seemed somehow out of keeping with the unusually warm Wearside sunshine but perhaps this sluggishness was only to be expected from two sides who have been heavily over-dependent on ageing strikers this season. Just as it is not Jermain Defoe’s fault that Sunderland are floundering so badly, neither is Ibrahimovic to blame for United’s struggles to finish in the top four.

Meeting Ander Herrera’s pass, he emphasised the point by swivelling imperiously and, having turned Billy Jones while simultaneously wrong-footing Lamine KonĂ©, shaping a wonderfully precise shot beyond Jordan Pickford and into the bottom corner.

It was his 28th goal of the season and left Pickford, who had earlier reacted superbly to turn Jesse Lingard’s shot away for a corner, helpless. If one had expected no less from United’s self-styled lion, Defoe was finding the going somewhat tougher. Watched by Gareth Southgate, the recently recalled England striker’s most notable first-half moment involved tracking back and winning a tackle against Shaw.

At half-time Defoe and friends were lucky not to be two down – Fellaini could not quite force Shaw’s fine cross past Pickford – but arguably unfortunate to be reduced to 10 men following Larsson’s sending-off for a slightly high challenge on Herrera as he followed through after a tackle.

Larsson got the ball, many referees would have shown a yellow card and most people in the stadium were outraged by the decision. Conversely the referee would presumably argue that the height of the midfielder’s foot made it potentially dangerous and officials have a responsibility to minimise the risk of injuries similar to that recently suffered by Ireland’s SĂ©amus Coleman.

After initially being reluctant to depart, Larsson gave Mike Jones, the fourth official, an earful as he finally trudged off, leaving Ellis Short, Sunderland’s watching owner, looking extremely pensive.

Barely a minute into the second half Short’s misery deepened when the excellent Henrikh Mkhitaryan received possession on the edge of the penalty area before threading a low, left-foot shot through KonĂ©’s legs and into the bottom corner. Moyes’s players – now without a goal in seven games – had paid for their negligence in failing to close down United.

Shortly afterwards Shaw, who played very well, was withdrawn. Presumably well aware of the cameras zooming in, Mourinho made a big show of intercepting and embracing the young defender as he passed through the technical area. By then Paul Pogba’s volley had skimmed Pickford’s bar and, despite continuing to create the odd half-chance, Sunderland’s shoulders indicated by their slump there would be only one outcome.

It seemed a good moment for Mourinho to introduce Rashford’s pace and improvisation. It was a switch vindicated when, in the 89th minute, the teenager accelerated seamlessly on to Ibrahimovic’s pass and directed a low shot into the bottom corner, his first Premier League goal since September.

Olivier Awards: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wins record nine prizes

Magical win: Hermione Grainger actress Noma Dumezweni and Anthony Boyle, who plays Scorpius Malfoy
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has won a record-breaking nine prizes at the Olivier Awards, the biggest event in the UK theatrical calendar.

The wizarding saga was named best new play at the ceremony at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Best actor winner Jamie Parker, who plays the grown-up Harry, thanked the show's "resolutely enchantable audience".

Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione Grainger, won best supporting actress.

Oliviers 2017: The winners in full

Picking up her statuette, she thanked JK Rowling for creating the character. "The privilege of being able to play Hermione is overwhelming and humbling," she said.

The best supporting actor prize went to Anthony Boyle, who was plucked from acting school to play the role of Scorpius Malfoy.
Other highlights from Sunday night's ceremony include:

  • Billie Piper winning best actress for Yerma
  • Groundhog Day named best new musical
  • Jesus Christ Superstar collecting the award for best musical revival
  • Sir Kenneth Branagh honoured for his outstanding contribution to British theatre

Winning nine of its 11 nominations, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child overtakes Matilda the Musical and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - both of which had seven wins each - to become the most decorated production in Oliviers history.

The play opened to five-star reviews at the Palace Theatre last July and has already dominated theatre awards season.

Based on an original story by JK Rowling, Thorne and director John Tiffany, the two-parter presents Harry, Ron and Hermione in their mid-30s as their own children head off to Hogwarts school.

Tiffany was named best director - he was up against himself in the same category for The Glass Menagerie - while the play also won for its lighting, sound, costumes, and set design.

"The power of imagination is infinite," Tiffany said in his acceptance speech. "We need it now more than ever."

Billie Piper will reprise her Yerma role at the Young Vic this summer

Billie Piper's best actress win was the first award of the night.

In Yerma, which was also named best revival, she played a young woman driven to extremes by her desire to have a child.

"This is so cool, it's awesome," said the former Doctor Who actress, who will reprise her role at London's Young Vic in the summer.

National Theatre of Scotland's production of Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour, which opens in the West End next month, was named best new comedy.

Matthew Bourne was named best theatre choreographer, with his production of The Red Shoes also winning best entertainment and family.

As well as its new musical prize, Groundhog Day - written by Tim Minchin and Danny Rubin - also received the award for best actor in a musical for Andy Karl's portrayal of Phil Connors. The Old Vic production opens on Broadway later this month.

Dream duo: Amber Riley and co-star Adam J Bernard

Former Glee star Amber Riley was named best actress in a musical for her role in Dreamgirls, while her co-star Adam J Bernard won best actor in a supporting role in a musical.

Picking up her award, Riley said: "Anyone who sees a little bit of themselves in me and sees me standing on this stage, I hope that you are inspired, I hope that you know that you can do this if you really want to."

Rebecca Trehearn won best actress in a supporting role in a musical for Show Boat.

David Fynn (Dewey Finn) and the young cast of School of Rock

Two shows composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber also scooped awards.

School of Rock the Musical won outstanding achievement in music for the three children's bands who play their instruments live every night at New London Theatre.

Meanwhile, Jesus Christ Superstar - first performed in 1971 - was named best musical revival.

The night included performances from Gary Barlow and Tim Firth with the company of The Girls and the Women's Institute Choir, as well as Amber Riley, Tim Minchin and the companies of School of Rock the Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Red Shoes.

Sir Kenneth Branagh was presented with a Special Award

At the end of the night, Sir Kenneth Branagh was presented with a Special Award by actor Mark Rylance and was joined on stage by 60 of the actors who appeared in the recent Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season of plays in the West End.

"There's nothing special about me," quipped Sir Kenneth. "I'm a working class boy from Belfast, and I was a comprehensive school kid in Reading."

The ceremony, hosted by Jason Manford, will be broadcast on ITV on Tuesday 11 April at 20:00 BST.

Wonga data breach could affect nearly 250,000 UK customers

More than a quarter of a million customers of payday loan firm Wonga are being warned that their personal data may have been stolen in a data breach at the firm.

The online lender said it was “urgently investigating illegal and unauthorised access” to the personal data of some of its customers in the UK and Poland. It is understood that the breach could affect up to 270,000 current and former customers, including 245,000 in the UK. The company would not disclose where it had taken place.

The lender, which offers loans at interest rates starting at 1,286% a year, became aware of a problem last week but did not realise until Friday that data could be accessed externally. It alerted the authorities and started to contact borrowers on Saturday to make them aware of the problem, and give details of a dedicated customer services phone line for those affected.

Customers who are thought to have been affected have received a message from the payday lender telling them: “We believe there may have been illegal and unauthorised access to some of your personal data on your Wonga.com account.”

The message said that Wonga was working to establish the full details but data breached “may have included one or more of the following: name, email address, home address, phone number, the last four digits of your card number (but not the whole number) and/or your bank account number and sort code.”

It went on to say that the lender believed Wonga accounts and passwords had not been compromised, but customers were advised to look out for unusual activity across their accounts. In a statement the firm said: “We are working closely with authorities and we are in the process of informing affected customers. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

The breach will be a blow to Wonga, which has in recent years attempted to improve its reputation following a series of controversies. The lender, which advertised heavily on TV and through football sponsorships, was found by the financial regulator to have made loans to customers who could not afford to repay them and to have chased bad debts with letters from a fake law firm. New directors have replaced the firm’s original founders, a three-month loan launched alongside the short-term payday loan, and marketing has been changed to appeal to a better-off audience.

However, it has been hard hit by tougher rules on lending, introduced when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took on stewardship of the sector. The latest set of results showed that the firm made a pre-tax loss of £80.2m in 2015, up from £38.1m the year before.

There was no sign of the breach on the lender’s website, which carried its usual information on how to apply for its loans. It has alerted the police, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the FCA. The ICO regulates firms’ use and care of people’s personal details, although financial services companies are not obliged to inform it of any breach. A spokesperson for the organisatio said: “All organisations have a responsibility to keep customers’ personal information secure. Where we find this has not happened, we can investigate and may take enforcement action.”

Wonga is the latest in a long line of companies to discover that information they hold on their customers has been compromised. In November, Tesco Bank suspended online transactions after £2.5m was stolen from 9,000 customers, while mobile phone operator Three said information from 130,000 users had been compromised when its systems were breached. A cyber attack on phone company Talk Talk in 2015 resulted in a £400,000 fine from the ICO after it found the firm “could have been prevented if TalkTalk had taken basic steps to protect customers’ information”.

On Twitter, some of Wonga’s customers were expressing concern about the breach and complaining that they were struggling to get onto Wonga’s website to change their account passwords. One tweeted the @OfficialWonga feed to say: “Received an email that my details may have been hacked. Please can you tell me if this is real? Been on hold for ages.”

Does it matter if the Passover story is literally true?

You probably already know the Passover story: How Moses asked Pharoah to let his enslaved people leave Egypt, and how Moses’ god punished Pharaoh — bringing about the death of the Egyptians’ firstborn sons even as he passed over Jewish households. You might even know the ancillary tale of the Passover orange. How much truth is there in these stories? At synagogues this time of year, myth collides with fact, tradition with changing values. Negotiating this collision is the puzzle of modern religion.

Passover is a holiday of debate, reflection and conversation. Last Passover, as my family and I and the rest of the congregation waited for the feast at our Reform Jewish temple, our rabbi prompted us: “Does it matter if the story of Passover isn’t literally true?”

Most people seemed to shake their heads. No, it doesn’t matter.

I was imagining the Egyptians’ sons. I am an outsider to the temple. My wife and teenage son are Jewish, but I am not. My 10-year-old daughter, adopted from China at age 1, describes herself as “half Jewish.”

I nodded my head. Yes, it does matter if the Passover story is literally true.

“Okay, Eric, why does it matter?” Rabbi Suzanne Singer handed me the microphone.

I hadn’t planned to speak. “It matters,” I said, “because if the story is literally true, then a god who works miracles really exists. It matters if there is such a god or not. I don’t think I would like the moral character of that god, who kills innocent Egyptians. I’m glad there is no such god.”

In belonging to an old religion, we honor values that are no longer entirely ours. We celebrate events that no longer quite make sense.

“It is odd,” I added, “that we have this holiday that celebrates the death of children, so contrary to our values now.”

The microphone went around, others in the temple responding to me. Values change, they said. Ancient war sadly and necessarily involved the death of children. We’re really celebrating the struggle for freedom for everyone….

Singer asked if I had more to say in response. My son leaned toward me. “Dad, you don’t have anything more to say.” I took his cue and shut my mouth.

Then the Seder plates arrived with the oranges on them.

Seder plates have six labeled spots: two bitter herbs, charoset (fruit and nuts), parsley, a lamb bone, a boiled egg, each with symbolic value. There is no labeled spot for an orange.

The first time I saw an orange on a Seder plate, I was told this story about it: A woman was studying to be a rabbi. An orthodox rabbi told her that a woman belongs on the bimah (pulpit) like an orange belongs on the Seder plate. When she became a rabbi, she put an orange on the plate.

A wonderful story — a modern, liberal story. More comfortable than the original Passover story for a liberal Reform Judaism congregation like ours, proud of our woman rabbi. The orange is an act of defiance, a symbol of a new tradition that celebrates gender equality.

Does it matter if it’s true?

Here’s what actually happened. Dartmouth Jewish studies professor Susannah Heschel was speaking to a Jewish group at Oberlin College in Ohio. The students had written a story in which a girl asks a rabbi if there is room for lesbians in Judaism, and the rabbi rises in anger, shouting, “There’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the Seder plate!” Heschel, inspired by the students but reluctant to put anything as unkosher as bread on the Seder plate, used a tangerine instead.

The orange, then, is not a wild act of defiance, but already a compromise and modification. The shouting rabbi is not an actual person but an imagined, simplified foe.

It matters that it’s not true. From the two stories of the orange, we learn the central lesson of Reform Judaism: that myths are cultural inventions built to suit the values of their day, idealizations and simplifications, changing as our values change — but also that only limited change is possible in a tradition-governed institution. An orange, but not a crust of bread.

In a way, my daughter and I are also oranges: a new type of presence in a Jewish congregation, without a marked place, welcomed this year, unsure we belong, at risk of rolling off.

In the car on the way home, my son scolded me: “How could you have said that, Dad? There are people in the congregation who take the Torah literally, very seriously! You should have seen how they were looking at you, with so much anger. If you’d said more, they would practically have been ready to lynch you.”

Due to the seating arrangement, I had been facing away from most of the congregation. I hadn’t seen those faces. Were they really so outraged? Was my son telling me the truth on the way home that night? Or was he creating a simplified myth of me?

In belonging to an old religion, we honor values that are no longer entirely ours. We celebrate events that no longer quite make sense.

We can’t change the basic tale of Passover. But we can add liberal commentary to better recognize Egyptian suffering, and we can add a new celebration of equality.

Although the new celebration, the orange, is an unstable thing atop an older structure that resists change, we can work to ensure that it remains. It will remain only if we can speak the story of it compellingly enough to give our new values too the power of myth.

Eric Schwitzgebel is a professor of philosophy at UC Riverside and the author of "Perplexities of Consciousness." He blogs at the Splintered Mind.

Irina Shayk and Bradley Cooper Have Welcomed Their First Child

Congratulations Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk! The couple are officially parents. Shayk, a supermodel and Victoria's Secret Angel, reportedly gave birth two weeks ago. At this time, the gender and name of the baby are not known.

Last fall, Shayk revealed news of her pregnancy by debuting her baby bump during the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The Russian model stunned while walking the catwalk, but has since been lying relatively low.

Cooper, a critically acclaimed actor, and Shayk, have been romantically linked since 2015. And while there's no news yet as to whether they will wed, it's clear that they are very much in love. Congratulations again to the happy couple! Baby now makes them a family of three.

Gegard Mousasi, Chris Weidman address controversial ending and possible rematch after UFC 210

The end of the fight between Gegard Mousasi and Chris Weidman left a sour taste for everyone watching, but especially for the two middleweights involved in the controversial ending at UFC 210.

It all happened in the second round when Mousasi fired off a pair of knees that blasted Weidman in the head and referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight while declaring the second strike as illegal.

Replays showed that the knee strikes were actually legal and the fight should have continued, but upon the doctor’s advice, Weidman was deemed medically unfit to compete and Mousasi was declared the winner by TKO.

“Pretty much the whole time [the referee] was telling me it was an illegal knee, you have five minutes, take your time,” Weidman explained at the post fight press conference. “I thought I was going to win because of an illegal knee. Then they looked at a replay, he left the Octagon to look at replay and said it was a legal knee but in the state of New York there’s no replays.

“So it’s a crappy situation.”

For his part, Mousasi feels like Weidman was looking for a way out after he took two very damaging knees that could have potentially led to a finish for him over the former middleweight champion.

“I have a lot of respect for Weidman, I don’t want to bad mouth him but if you want to play smart and take advantage of the rules, that’s not my fault, I’m fighting. If you want to put your hands down so I cannot knee you or take it up, we’re fighting. Don’t try to take advantage of the rules,” Mousasi said. “I’m fighting and at the end of the day it was legal.

“That’s what everyone says now. It was a legal. I don’t make the rules. It was legal and I felt like he didn’t want to continue. I think everyone saw that. He didn’t want to continue. How’s that my fault? I don’t give a [expletive]. I won.”

Considering the outcome, Weidman says he plans to file an appeal with the New York State Athletic Commission over the result but more than anything he just wants a rematch with Mousasi to settle the score.

“If it was a legal knee, I would loved to just keep fighting. It shouldn’t have been stopped but the ref at the end of the day is the one who made the judgment call in the state of New York, his word is what counts. There’s no replay, you can’t go back to replay,” Weidman said.

“I would love to get a rematch. I would love to get three rounds in. I feel like I was on my way to winning that fight. What are you going to do? I know obviously Gegard has to be pissed, too. He doesn’t want to win like that. I would have been pissed if they stopped it and I won the fight. I would definitely do a rematch so I want a rematch right away.”

Mousasi responded by saying he’s happy to give Weidman a rematch although in a perfect world he’s gunning for a shot at the title so that takes precedence over everything else for him.

“If he wants his rematch, I can give it to him but at the end of the day I’m chasing the title,” Mousasi said. “If I fight [Michael] Bisping, I think I will be favored. Fighting Weidman is tough. It was a tough fight. First round he won, second round I was coming back. I hurt him. Whatever, I’m not the matchmaker.

“I didn’t want to win it this way but it’s a win. Some soccer games they score with a penalty [kick], they win. It’s a win. At the end of the day, I’ll take it. He didn’t want to fight. It’s not my fault.”

The one major caveat to this entire situation is Mousasi’s current status as a free agent following the last fight of his current contract with the UFC against Weidman.

While Mousasi has expressed a lot of ill feelings about his current salary, he said UFC president Dana White promised to get a deal done with him and more than anything he just wants to stay competing with the best of the best in the Octagon.

“My goal is to get the UFC belt,” Mousasi said. “I’m not looking to go anywhere else.”

Sweet Smell of Success: Rags to riches

Here is one of three unlikely success stories from Susan Spencer:

The clothes in Jade Myers’ closet just hang out, eagerly awaiting their next closet. “Everything I own, I sell,” Myers said. “I rotate everything through.”

Myers calls herself a professional “thrifter.”

“Thrifting means you’re gonna go and find secondhand clothing that’s been donated, and generally, you find a really good deal.”

“You don’t see this as just a bunch of old clothes?” Spencer asked.

“No. I see it as treasure!” she laughed.

Her hunt for literally buried treasure takes her to thrift stores, such as the one she visited with Spencer in Brooklyn, New York. Finding time to do this meant quitting her day job.

Spencer asked, “What was it, the decision to go out on your own with old clothes?”

“Well, they’re not all old!” Myers laughed.

“They’re pretty old! Looking pretty bad here!”

But Myers knows exactly what she’s looking for. (“You can imagine somebody in the ‘80s totally rocked this!”) It’s 25 bucks for all the stuff you can stuff into a single bag. Myers left with three, confident she could sell it quickly.

First she cleans, sizes and, with the help of a friend who’s a model, photographs each piece. Then, up it goes on Poshmark, an app started by Manish Chandra in Redwood, Calif.

“There’s almost a trillion dollars’ worth of clothes that are sitting in people’s closets,” Chandra said. “And so we wanted to make it super-easy for anybody to sell and open up a boutique.”

Easy enough that Poshmark says some two million people are using the app to sell discarded duds. Myers has more than 53,000 followers.

“Do you have in your mind a profile of who your best customer is?” Spencer asked.

“The one who buys from me again!” Myers laughed.

She says she nets up to $6,000 a month.

Her highest-profit margin, she said, was on a fur coat she bought for $4, and sold for about $1,000. Talk about rags to riches!

Masters 2017: Sergio GarcĂ­a Finally Wins First Major Title

In Europe, the man who popularized golf was the Spaniard Seve Ballesteros, who was Arnold Palmer with an accent. Like Palmer, Ballesteros was very, very good when he hit his drives straight and even better if they went crooked.

In 1980, three months after Sergio GarcĂ­a was born, Ballesteros won the first of his two Masters titles. GarcĂ­a grew up idolizing the swashbuckling Ballesteros, whose influence on GarcĂ­a’s golf and his life was immense.

Nearly six years after Ballesteros died of brain cancer, on what would have been his 60th birthday, GarcĂ­a conquered the field, Augusta National and his demons — not necessarily in that order — to win the Masters.

GarcĂ­a weathered the challenge of his playing partner Justin Rose and potential calamity on the back nine to claim his long-awaited first major title.

After starting the round tied with Rose at six under par, Garcia built a three-shot lead early, lost it, fell behind Rose by two after 11 holes, missed a short putt at the 18th hole to win and then claimed the green jacket with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

Garcia and Rose finished 72 holes at nine-under-par 279.

This was GarcĂ­a’s 74th start at a major. That it took him so long to win one would have been hard to conceive in 1999, when GarcĂ­a burst onto the scene as a teenager with a runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at the P.G.A. Championship.

After his third straight below-par round Saturday, GarcĂ­a said it had been hard, “but it was fun.” That was a marked departure for GarcĂ­a, who five years earlier had walked off Augusta National’s 18th green after his third round and said he was not good enough to win a major because he lacked “the thing I need to have.”

From then to now, García gained a few more years of maturity, and a fiancée. In three months, he will be married to Angela Akins, who played golf at Texas Christian and met García when she was working at Golf Channel.

Akins’s sunny personality can lift GarcĂ­a’s dark moods, and her father, Marty, a former N.F.L. quarterback, has been an optimistic voice to cut through GarcĂ­a’s negative self-talk.

“Marty is a very, very positive — you know — outspoken and very, very confident kind of guy,” GarcĂ­a said, “and it definitely helps when he’s encouraging you and things like that.”

GarcĂ­a had to give himself a pep talk after Rose, on the strength of three consecutive birdies starting at the sixth, drew even. After they both made the turn in two-under 34, GarcĂ­a gave up the lead with a bogey on the par-4 10th, where convention holds that the Masters officially begins.

GarcĂ­a bogeyed No. 11 as well, falling two shots back, and then his tee shot on the 13th hole ended up under an azalea bush. But he managed to save par, and Rose just missed a birdie putt, keeping GarcĂ­a in striking distance.

A birdie on the 14th got GarcĂ­a one shot closer. At No. 15, he hit a stunning second shot to within 15 feet of the hole, then made his eagle putt. After a Rose birdie, the two were tied again, at nine under.

Rose birdied the 16th but gave back the lead with a bogey at the 17th so that the final group arrived at the 18th tee tied at nine under. Both men missed birdie putts, sending the tournament to a sudden-death playoff.

The playoff started at the 18th, where Rose’s tee shot landed in mulch off the fairway. He ended up with a bogey, giving GarcĂ­a two putts from 10 feet to win the Masters. He needed only one.

Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 champion here, shot a final-round 68 to finish alone in third at six under.

Rickie Fowler, who was also seeking his first major title, started the day one shot back, but he could not make a move after an erratic round with seven bogeys and three birdies. A 76 left him at one under.

Jordan Spieth, who won in 2015 but squandered a big final-round lead on the back nine last year, was only two shots behind the leaders when play began on Sunday. But he did not wait for the back nine to falter this time. He bogeyed three of his first six holes and made the turn six shots out of the lead. And it only got worse. Two bogeys and a double bogey followed before Spieth birdied the three of his last four holes to finish at one under.

Matt Kuchar, a fan favorite at Augusta since his college days at Georgia Tech, did make a charge, including a hole in one at the 16th hole that left him five under. But playing several holes ahead of the leaders, Kuchar ran out of chances to get closer.

Joining Kuchar at five under was Thomas Pieters, a 25-year-old Belgian playing his first Masters.

Related Posts