A spectacular finish from Ireland's Shane Lowry was matched by an equally brilliant start from Sergio Garcia on day one of the Honda Classic at PGA National.

Lowry was level par for the day before holing from 18 feet for birdie on the 17th and then just four feet for eagle on the par-five 18th after a stunning approach over the water.

That gave the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner a three-under-par 67 to leave him in a share of fifth place, two shots behind joint leaders Garcia and American Michael Thompson.

Speaking about his approach to the last, Lowry told PGA Tour Radio: "I hit a great drive down there and had 215 (yards) to the front, 243 to the flag and the wind was howling out of the left. It was just a hard three iron and try to not let it go right.

"I was just trying to get it up somewhere on the left side of the green and thankfully it came off straight at the flag and released down to about three feet. It was a nice way to finish.

"I was just happy to shoot under par out there, it's so tough. It's very tough mentally, every shot requires a good shot, you don't get away with any bad shots out there.

"I am very happy with where I am. I've got a long way to go so hopefully I can get a good night's sleep tonight and get out there tomorrow afternoon and do something."

Asked if he was playing at the highest level of his career, the three-time European Tour winner added: "Definitely. I feel like I am good enough to compete week in, week out.

Graeme McDowell went around in 71 to sit at one under par. 

Rory McIlroy three-putted the last to card a 72, while defending champion Padraig Harrington was a shot further back.  

McIlroy was one under par after 13 holes but took six on the 14th after finding three separate bunkers and, after a birdie on the 15th, bogeyed the 16th and 18th, the latter with a three-putt from 10 feet. 

Garcia, who missed the cut in the Northern Trust Open last week, dropped just one shot in the windy conditions, although that was the least of his worries at the time.

After pulling his drive on the sixth into a lake, Garcia elected to take off his shoes and socks and splash out from the edge of the water, but could understandably be seen anxiously looking over his shoulder for signs of any alligators nearby.

The world number 19 emerged unscathed and produced the perfect response with birdies on the seventh and eighth and parred the next nine holes before a two-putt birdie on the 18th.

Speaking about his flying start, Garcia told Sky Sports: "I hit two really good shots on the first and hit a good putt but just missed it right, and then on two I hit a great drive and a beautiful eight iron and managed to hole it.