Garcia matches Woods with ace as Masters champion

(Ponte Vedre, FL:) Masters champion, Sergio Garcia sensationally celebrated his return to competition with a hole-in-one late in his round on day one of the Players Championship at Ponte Vedre in Florida.

Garcia used a 52-degree wedge at the famed island-green par three 17th sending his 123-yard tee shot onto the green and taking two bounces before spinning back into the bottom of the cup.

The Spaniard punched his right arm into the air as a massive roar erupted around the hole on the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass.

Garcia’s effort is the first as a reigning Augusta National champion on the PGA Tour in 20-years since Tiger Woods managed the same feat in 1997.

Garcia had been three-over par at the time having moments earlier birdied the par five, 16th after having earlier bogeyed the 15th. His last four holes read 5,4,1 and 4 for an eventual 1-over 73.

Among the first to congratulate Garcia was fellow Spaniard and former double European Tour winner, Jose Manuel Lara who is caddying for Garcia while regular caddy, Glen Murray is on a month’s leave after the birth of a second child.

“I hit a good shot, but it can go anywhere, it can go three yards past but I don’t know, as it can do anything so it was nice to see it bounce and kind of spin back into the hole,” Garcia said.

“That was my 12th ace as I have had five in tournaments and seven in practice.”

“And the reaction from all the crowd was great. I wish we would have had the amount of people on the concert because there was a lot more, but yeah, it was good fun.”

“Maybe because I needed it after the start I had. It kind of made quite a poor round into — not a great round but a decent round. If I have a good day tomorrow, I’ll still be in good shape.”

Unfortunately, there was no prize of a new car or a boot load of cash or even a bottle of champagne just the honour on the final tee for Garcia to end the opening day of the $US 10.5m event trailing in a share of 66th place – six shots behind the leading duo of American William McGirt and Canadian Mackenzie Hughes.

Aussie Adam Scott, who is competing alongside Garcia for the first two rounds had led by a shot on six-under par coming to the 17th hole but proceeded to double his closing two holes for a score of 2-under 70.