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Masters green jacket is a humble garment and the ultimate trophy

A detailed shot of an Augusta National logo

A detailed shot of an Augusta National logo is seen on a green jacket during a practice round prior to the start of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 2, 2018 in Augusta, Ga. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Redington

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Those with a keen eye for fashion will recognize the color as Shade 342, used on the uniforms of Cleveland State and Colorado State and the national flag of Turkmenistan. It also is the hue that represents golf immortality and perfectly complements a bride’s white wedding dress.

Sergio Garcia found the latter two to be the case in the past year as he proudly wore that color just about everywhere he went. It is the green of the green jacket, arguably the most coveted prize in sports (or at least in the running with the Stanley Cup).

This week will mark the 70th time that someone will be awarded the green jacket for having won the Masters. The champion will enjoy a tradition that began in 1949 when members at Augusta National saluted Sam Snead’s victory by giving him one of their jackets.

Strictly as a garment, the thing has been valued at $250. As a symbol, it is priceless and life changing. No wonder whoever wins it and gets to wear it in public for a year never wants to take it off.

“If I told you everywhere I took it, I will probably miss my tee time on Thursday,” Garcia said on Tuesday morning at Augusta National, having returned to the media center for the first time since he defeated Justin Rose in a playoff last April. “There’s been so many places. Obviously, my wedding . . . ”

His then-impending marriage to former Golf Channel personality Angela Akins was seen as having a calming, emboldening effect on the golfer who had publicly questioned his own fitness to win a major title. They have since welcomed a daughter and named her Azalea, the nickname of Augusta’s 13th hole, which Garcia credited with having turned around his Sunday round.

He wore the jacket to Wimbledon, to the New York Stock Exchange, to numerous television studios. At one of them, he hugged a stagehand who apparently wore an oil- or grease-stained shirt. You can imagine what that did to the jacket. “I’m thinking, ‘My God, I’ve had the jacket for a day-and-a-half and I already have two massive stains on it,’ ”Garcia recalled on Tuesday, adding that a dry cleaner took care of it.

The object of all the fuss had a very humble beginning. Augusta National members began wearing green jackets — purchased from Brooks Uniform Co. in Manhattan — during the 1937 tournament so that spectators would know to whom they should go for information. Since then, the humble article of clothing has taken on almost mythical proportions.

Jordan Spieth said on Tuesday that the Masters is the Super Bowl for professional golfers and that the green jacket manifests that feeling. “It’s once you leave the property that it really hits you,” he said. “When you stand on the green it’s one thing, but you’re kind of thinking about what you want to say and how you want to thank everybody who made it possible.

“It’s not until I left the property that I truly kind of felt what it was like to wear the jacket, and wear the jacket I did, for a year. It didn’t leave my side.”

Garcia was excited about the prospect of hosting his first Champions Dinner Tuesday night, seeing all of his fellow Masters winners wearing their green jackets. On him, it was a symbol of talent finally reaching its potential.

The thought of seeing him in it had motivated Rory McIlroy to tweet on Garcia’s behalf down the stretch last April, despite the fact that McIlroy also is close to Rose. The Masters clearly would mean the world to Garcia. “To have seen all the heartbreaks . . . he wears his heart on his sleeve,” McIlroy said, “and just that moment was really special.”

Nothing goes with a heart on a sleeve like a green jacket on someone’s back.

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