SERGIO Garcia believes he can win more of golf's biggest prizes after finally claiming his first major title at the 74th attempt in an unforgettable Masters.

Garcia was playing his 71st consecutive major at Augusta National, a streak stretching back to the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

A month later he finished second to Tiger Woods in the US PGA Championship at the age of 19 but had since recorded a further 21 top-ten finishes without tasting success.

All that changed in dramatic fashion on Sunday when he came out on top in a thrilling final-round duel with Justin Rose, a birdie on the first play-off hole making Garcia the third Spanish winner of the Masters – on what would have been the 60th birthday of two-time champion Seve Ballesteros for good measure.

Having claimed in 2012 he was not good enough to win a major, a more positive attitude has been key to Garcia's success and the 37-year-old is due to marry fiancee Angela Akins in July.

Garcia said: "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.

"For me, the most positive thing is that I feel like I have so much room for improvement. Obviously I'm 37, I'm not 22 or 25 any more, but I feel I still have a lot of great years in me and I'm excited for those."

Much was made of the connection to Ballesteros throughout the week but Garcia highlighted the influence of another Spanish two-time Masters champion, Jose Maria Olazabal.

Olazabal sent Garcia a message on the eve of the tournament with words of advice and encouragement, as well as a special request for some company in the small Champions Locker Room at Augusta.

Garcia said: "Jose Maria's note was very special because he's my idol. He and Seve are both my golfing idols since I was very little.

"He did mention a couple of things that kind of touched my heart a little bit. He said, 'I'm not sharing my locker at the moment and I hope that I get to do it with you'.

"He's a great man and we've had a great relationship for many years. To be able to join him and Seve as Masters champions from Spain, it's unbelievable."

Two early birdies and a bogey from Rose briefly gave Garcia a three-shot lead in the final round, only for Rose to respond with a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth.

Bogeys on the tenth and 11th dropped Garcia two shots behind his playing partner and his challenge looked to be unravelling when a pulled drive on the 13th finished underneath an azalea bush.

Yet after taking a penalty drop and pitching out onto the fairway, he got up and down from 90 yards for par and saw Rose unable to hole from six feet for birdie.

Garcia closed the gap with a birdie on the 14th and then produced a stunning approach to the 15th which pitched inches short of the hole and appeared to glance off the pin.

With Rose lagging his long eagle attempt to tap-in distance, Garcia holed from 15 feet to get back on level terms, before Rose reclaimed the lead with a birdie on the 16th before failing to get up and down from a bunker on the 17th.

Both players missed birdie chances on the 72nd hole but Garcia made no mistake the second time around before letting out a roar of celebration.

He said: "A lot of things were going on through my mind; everybody that supported me, my sponsors, my moments that unfortunately didn't go the way I wanted.

"And some of the moments I've had here at Augusta that maybe I haven't enjoyed as much and how stupid I really was trying to fight against something that you can't fight – and how proud I was of accepting things.

"I'm not going to lie – it's not the golf course that I'm most comfortable in, because I've become more of a fader than a drawer of the ball, and this golf course is asking you to hit a lot of draws.

"But I knew that I could still work it around, you know, if I just accepted what was happening, so I'm very proud of that."