The PLAYERS: Sergio Garcia continues love affair with Sawgrass

Sergio Garcia

TPC Sawgrass surely brings out the best in Sergio Garcia.

A winner of The PLAYERS Championship in 2008, the Spaniard has made the cut in the PGA Tour's flagship event for 16 consecutive years. 

In addition to that victory 13 years ago, he has also finished second twice, inside the top-5 on another two occasions, and inside the top-10 once further. 

Today, in the opening round of this year's event, the 41-year-old rekindled his love affair with the Pete Dye-designed course. 

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A sublime seven-under 65 vaulted Garcia into an early lead. It was his 25th career round in the 60s at The PLAYERS - a tournament record - and tied his career low round in the event. 

Alongside Fred Couples, the former Masters champion is also the second player in the championship's history with at least three rounds of 65 or lower at TPC Sawgrass, whilst his two eagles - at the ninth and 16th holes - tied Couples' record of 15.

So, yeah. He likes the place.

"I just love it," said Garcia after his round. "I've always said it, Valderrama and this course are some of my top favourite ones and for some reason they just, it just kind of fits my eye. 

"I see what I want to do pretty much every hole and then it's a matter of doing it, but definitely I feel more comfortable and I've done well. So all those things help.

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"I hit some good iron shots, drove the ball nicely, hit some good iron shots and give myself a lot of those 15 to 20-footers for eagles and birdies and I was able to roll three or four of them, and that obviously helps."

Making Garcia's 65 all the more impressive was the fact that so many of his fellow big names struggled on a brutally tough day for scoring.

His playing partner Rory McIlroy stumbled to a 79, whilst the world No.1 and No.2 - Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson - also failed to break par. Former Open champion Henrik Stenson, meantime, props up the leaderboard after a 13-over 85. He was one of more than a dozen players who failed to break 80.

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"The greens are probably as quick as I've seen them for a few years," admitted Garcia. "And because they were soft it was like it was tough to control your spin. You spin it a little bit with the speed of the greens and a little bit of slope, the balls were just rolling off the greens, and you were hitting good shots and they weren't holding. 

"So it was a little bit tricky. It kind of caught us a couple of times here and there but I was able to manage it nicely towards the end."

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