Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Garcia makes hole-in-one at Players' famed island-green 17th

Garcia makes hole-in-one at Players' famed island-green 17th

Garcia, who tees off Thursday afternoon at the US PGA Players Championship, captured his first major title after 73 failures last month at Augusta National, downing England's Justin Rose in a playoff to claim the coveted green jacket symbolic of Masters champions.

McIlroy was speaking ahead of this week's Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, know as golf's unofficial fifth major.

Garcia returns, at 37 years old, to what amounts to a new phase in his career. "I've always said my goal is to keep becoming better".

"But, for me, what has meant the most has been to see the reaction from players and their support to me". He'll find out soon enough, as he'll kick off his tournament on No. 1 at 1:41 p.m. ET with Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar.

William McGirt and Mackenzie Hughes are joint-leaders after the opening round.

"I played 16 nicely and I obviously hit a really, really good shot (on 17) but you're looking at it and you don't know what to tell the ball", Garcia told Sky Sports.

"When I hit it, the wind went straight into us, and I'm glad I hit it hard, because usually I hit my wedge 138, 140 [yards], and that thing flew 125", Garcia said. "And then I was going to go out Wednesday and I thought, gosh, if I walk around in the heat I'll get exhausted".

"I could be leading the tournament".

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Jason Day suffered a late stumble as he started his bid to achieve something which proved beyond the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus.

The world number three has recorded just one top-10 finish in 2017 and has fallen more than five points behind world number one Dustin Johnson in the rankings, although his form has been affected by his mother's battle with lung cancer.

"For all the stuff that's been shouted his way over the years, there's a lot of haters that were put down with that win, and that's not why we do what we do, but it's kind of nice to have that, I'm sure, from his perspective".

Four-times major victor McIlroy, fresh off his honeymoon, returns to action for the first time since finishing equal seventh at the Masters and the world number two will have all new clubs after signing a deal with TaylorMade.

"I've played here 25 years, so it's not like that one [practice] round was going to make a big difference".

"I'm just trying to gain some confidence, get back to working on the right things, doing the right things off the course that will hopefully produce the results on the course", Day added.

"Is it ideal to come back and be the first tournament this one?"

That included a double bogey after four-putting the fifth, the same hole the 2008 champion six-putted in the third round a year ago.

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