The 37-year-old Spaniard capitalised when Rose hit an errant tee shot on the first extra hole – the 18th – and missed his 14-foot par putt, allowing world No.11 Garcia two putts for the green jacket.
Garcia needed only one as he drained the 12-foot birdie putt, winning his first major title at his 74th attempt.
Garcia wept on the 18th green, overcome with emotion of getting the majors monkey off his back and the fact today would have been the late legendary Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday.
Swashbuckling, five-time major winner Ballesteros – a two-time Masters champion – died aged 54 in 2011.
“It’s amazing to do it on his 60th birthday and to join him and (countryman Jose Maria) Olazabal my two idols (as a Masters champion) is something amazing,” said Garcia.
England’s Lee Westwood is the only active player with a longer drought in the majors – he is 0-and-76 after finishing the Masters tied for 18th.
“It’s been such a long time coming. I kind of came to peace with it (not happening),” said an elated Garcia.
“But I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt in a major.
“Even after making a coupe of bogeys I was still very positive and I hit a good shots coming in.”
Garcia and Rose had finished tied at nine under 279 after shooting closing rounds of three under 69 to be three shots clear of third-placed Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
Australia’s 2013 champion Adam Scott finished a disappointing tied for ninth at two under after starting the day in contention three of the lead and shooting a 73.
Garcia started his day by racing out two a two-shot lead early in the round and ground out gutsy par saves later on the front nine.
But on the back side, Garcia looked to suffer another heartbreaking major collapse with bogeys at the 10th and 11th before hooking his tee shot into the hazard at the par-5 13th.
His courageous par there was the beginning of a brilliant comeback.
The turning point came with Garcia two shots down to Rose before birdieing the par-4 14th and backing up with a magnificent eagle on the par-5 15th to go one ahead.
The scores were level heading up the final hole.
Both hit stellar approach shots to within 10 feet of the hole but neither could clinch the deal, with Garcia missing from only six feet.
So the duo headed to the 18th for a second time in 10 minutes to start the playoff.
Rose lost his tee shot right but the golf gods had it ricochet down into the pine straw to give him a chance.
However, Rose could only punch out and then wedge his ball to 14 feet while Garcia stuffed his iron shot to 12 feet and drained the birdie to win.
Garcia becomes just the third Spaniard to win the Masters after Ballesteros (1980, 1983) and Jose Maria Olazabal (1994.)
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