Players Championship: Sergio Garcia hits hole-in-one as Adam Scott blows chance to lead

Sergio Garcia celebrates his hole in one
The island green at the par-three 17th at Sawgrass is one of the most iconic holes in golf
Players Championship first-round leaderboard
-5 W McGirt (US), M Hughes (Can); -4 JB Holmes (US), A Noren (Swe), C Reavie (US), J Rahm (Spa)
Selected others: -2 A Scott (Aus),L Westwood (Eng); -1 P Casey (Eng), G McDowell (NI) B Langer (Ger); Level I Poulter (Eng); +1 R McIlroy (NI), S Garcia (Spa); +2 L Donald, T Fleetwood, J Rose (all Eng), M Laird (Sco), S Lowry (Ire) Full leaderboard

Masters winner Sergio Garcia hit a hole-in-one on the iconic 17th hole as Adam Scott blew the chance to take a first-round lead at the Players Championship at Sawgrass in Florida.

Garcia, playing his first tournament since Masters victory last month, recovered from a poor start to card a one-over round of 73.

William McGirt and Mackenzie Hughes lead after five-under 67s.

World number 11 Scott dropped four shots in the last two holes.

The 2013 Masters champion was on six under through 16 holes but hit a five on the par-three 17th and a six on the par-four 18th to shoot a two-under 70.

England's Lee Westwood shot a bogey-free round of 70 to reach two under, with compatriot Paul Casey and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell a stroke further back.

Scott's fellow Australian Jason Day, the world number three, is two under, a shot ahead of a group including world number one Dustin Johnson and Bernhard Langer, who at 59 is the oldest player in the tournament.

Rory McIlroy is one over, while Luke Donald and Masters runner-up Justin Rose both opened with a two-over 74.

Garcia started with three bogeys and a double bogey in the first six holes but three birdies in total and the ace on 17 helped him recover to stay in contention.

The Spaniard is just the the eighth player to make a hole-in-one on the 17th at Sawgrass in Players Championship history.

"It was nice to see it bounce and kind of spin back into the hole, maybe because I needed it after the start I had," said Garcia.

"I wasn't quite in the tournament because of everything that's been going on after the Masters win and media and people congratulating you left, right and centre - I was a little bit up in the clouds, and when I woke up, I was four over after six."

American Johnson narrowly missed out on winning his fourth straight tournament at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, finishing second on his return from the back injury that saw him pull out of the Masters on the first tee.

He started with a bogey at Sawgrass, hitting three in total, but two birdies and an eagle on the par-five 16th saw him move to four shots behind the leader.

"I could never really get any momentum - I hit some good shots, then I would lip-out the putt," said Johnson.

Co-leader McGirt hit three birdies on the front nine and eagled both of the par five holes on the back nine to offset two bogeys.

It is the fifth time the 37-year-old American, who won the 2016 Memorial Tournament, has held the lead or a share of the lead after 18 holes but is yet to convert an opening-round lead into victory.

Adam Scott
Adam Scott won the Masters in 2013

Analysis

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter

Players can go through spells when they cannot avoid being centre of attention.

It seems this is the case for Masters winner Sergio Garcia, who repaired a stumbling start with a hole-in-one on probably the most iconic par three on the PGA Tour.

That capped an odd opening day in which a string of big names - Jason Day, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler included - handed back promising starts.

Sawgrass represents an exacting test with no margin for error and that remains the case following the latest renovations to the layout.

Rory McIlroy has been troubled with a back problem that hampered his preparations and he will need to shed rust rapidly to have any chance of contending over the weekend.

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