Garcia blown away by Masters reaction ahead of Players Championship return

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Sergio Garcia was blown away by the reaction of his peers after ending his long wait to win a first major at the Masters last month.

The popular Spaniard had managed 22 top-10 finishes across 73 majors before finally making his breakthrough at Augusta, beating Justin Rose in a play-off.

Rory McIlroy revealed this week that he cried when Ryder Cup team-mate Garcia clinched the green jacket, and the world number six was overwhelmed by how his victory was received.

"There are so many great things that have happened since Sunday at Augusta," Garcia told a media conference ahead of the Players Championship.

"The support from fans and supporters and everyone around the world has been amazing.

"What has meant the most is to see the reaction from the players towards me and other than a couple, how happy they all have been.

"That, to me, it shows me a lot. It shows me how much my fellow players respect me and care about me. It's something that you can't really fake, so that's awesome.

The Players Championship represents Garcia's first outing since winning the Masters, and he returns to a course where he has enjoyed success in the past. The Spaniard triumphed at TPC Sawgrass in 2008 and was a runner-up in 2007 and 2015.

"Is it ideal to come back and this be the first tournament? Hopefully we'll be able to say that on Sunday," he said.

"I've been very thankful and very lucky to have so many opportunities here to win. Not only the one where I did win, but some of the other ones where I have been very, very close.

"I just want to keep doing more of the same thing. I love the golf course and if I manage to play well, I should have a chance on Sunday. It would be nice to get back into those kind of emotions."

Garcia, green jacket and all, took the ceremonial kick-off when Real Madrid took on Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu last month in an experience he will cherish.

"To walk on what I think is the best soccer stadium in the world in the Bernabeu in a Clasico against Barcelona which is probably the biggest football game that exists in the world, to have 90,000 people chanting your name, that was extremely special," said Madrid fan Garica.

"I was nervous. I was only kicking the ball 15 yards! That was something that was very unique and something that I will never forget."