8am Round-Up: Sergio Garcia aces iconic 17th at Sawgrass

Sergio Garcia is congratulated by fans as he walks to the 17th green after his hole-in-one in the opening round of the Players Championship. Picture: AP

Sergio Garcia is congratulated by fans as he walks to the 17th green after his hole-in-one in the opening round of the Players Championship. Picture: AP

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Masters champion Sergio Garcia salvaged his opening round in the Players Championship with a hole-in-one at the iconic 17th at Sawgrass.

In his first competitive round since winning at Augusta National last month, the Spaniard was three-over before holing a wedge from 122 yards for the eighth ace of his career.

It followed a birdie at the previous hole and, after that strong finish, Garcia eventually signed for a 73 to sit six shots off the lead in the so-called fifth major.

American Williamt McGirt and Canadian Mackenzie Hughes are the pacesetters after they shot matching 67s, with Scottish Open champion Alex Noren and Spaniard Jon Rahm in a group one back.

“I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t a great day out there,” Garcia told the Golf Channel. “I felt a little bit nervous early on after the high from the Masters.

“Got off to a terrible start but managed to have a great finish and tomorrow I’ll go out there a little calmer and get back into this tournament.”

The last player to win the Masters and record a hole-in-one in a PGA Tour event in the same year was Tiger Woods in 1997.

Garcia’s playing partner, Adam Scott, was out in front on six-under-par before he finished with two double-bogeys and had to settle for a 70.

“It was awesome,” said Scott of Garcia’s hole-in-one. “Unfortunately I followed by rinsing it.

“It was just a slight mis-hit and the ball started cutting on the wind. It pitched high right and then just spun back in the water.

“It happens. I played some good golf out there today, just unfortunately not on the last two.”

Defending champion Jason Day also stumbled late on as he opened with the same score world No 1 Dustin Johnson bemoaned some back luck in his 71.

World No 2 Rory McIlroy, who was nursing a stiff back, had a 73.

Martin Laird dropped three shots in the last five holes on the back nine as he signed for a 74.

Fellow Scot Russell Knox has an even bigger fight on his hands in the battle to make the cut after a 76 left him sitting in a tie for 123rd.

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Craig Lawrie, Paul’s eldest son, is the leading Scot heading into the final round of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Great National Hotels Irish Masters.

The Aberdonian sits joint-seventh on four-under-par after opening rounds of 69 and 68 at Ballykisteen Golf & Country Club.

Sean Lawrie, Craig’s cousin, is a shot behind in a share of 16th, the pair chasing home player Niall Turner after he moved into the lead on 11-under after tacking a 66 on to his opening 67.

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Dumfries & County player Liam Johnston was among just 13 players to break par in the first round of the Irish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Royal County Down.

Johnston, winner of the African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek earlier in the year, signed for a one-under 70 to sit joint-eighth as Englishman Nicholas Poppleton set the pace with an impressive 67.

Turnhouse’s Euan McIntosh, last year’s Scottish Order of Merit winner, was next best among the tartan challengers on 71.

Drumoig’s Connor Syme had a 74, one more than playing partner Stewart Hagestad, the tall American who finished as leading amateur in this year’s Masters.

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Downfield’s Graham Bell is out in front after the opening round of the Scottish Seniors Golfing Society’s North of Scotland Open.

He carded carded a three-under-par 67 at Tain to lead by a shot from Ratho Park’s David Campbell and Robert Smith from Nairn.

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