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Sergio still buzzing over his Masters title ahead of Players

Sergio still buzzing over his Masters title ahead of Players

A hole-in-one at the famous 17th hole lifted the mood of Masters champion Sergio Garcia on an otherwise frustrating day for the Spaniard in the first round at the Players Championship on Thursday.

"The way I look at it is I've been very thankful and very lucky to have so many opportunities here to win, not only the one that I did, but some of the other ones that I've been very, very close", Garcia said. "That was very unique and that was something that, with many things that happened at Augusta, I will never forget". Why, just four years ago, the Players' Stadium Course was the setting for a combative Sergio vs. Tiger Woods feud, and you all remember whom the fans wanted to win that one.

"But for me, what has meant the most, it's to see the reaction from the players ... to see how happy they all have been for me to get my first major and win the Masters". It's awesome what a single Sunday in Augusta can do for a man. Garcia often has played golf's dastardly villain, raising ire with his sometimes petulant and childish behavior, swinging his fists at the golf gods.

Since turning pro in 1999 as a 19-year-old baby-faced prodigy, Garcia had been chasing golf's most prized possessions, his 12 major top-5s the most by any winless player in the past 75 years.

"It nearly feels like they wanted me to win it more than I did, " he said.

Now that he has a major under his belt, will Garcia be able to reel off several more the way Phil Mickelson, who didn't win his first (also at the Masters) until age 33 and now owns five?

Garcia, a lifelong Real Madrid fan, said being introduced to the crowd at the Bernabeu had been the highlight of his break.

"I wasn't quite in the tournament because of everything that's been going on". It was the second of his PGA career and it followed a second-round ace at the intimidating hole at last year's Players Championship by Willy Wilcox, which was the first since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2002 (per ESPN). "I'm sure a lot of things about that (Masters) week will go through my mind and stuff and it's a great thing to have happen". Noting Thursday's front pin location, which made things a bit less stressful for the golfers, as well as the firmness of the green, he said, "It's going to be a test throughout the whole week".

The combination of pride, relief and satisfaction have mixed to reveal a growing confidence in a player who once claimed he didn't have what it takes to win a major. "I know that I can still improve, so that's my goal". There's still many more things we can achieve.

"That was one of the most fantastic experiences I've had, " he said. "But we're not done here".