Tiger Woods vs. Sergio Garcia: The war of words and a backswing

Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods watch the result of a drive by Garcia during the third round of the Players Championship.
(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)

Tiger Woods versus Sergio Garcia: There is nothing better than a knock-down, drag-out fight in golf. And this is a war of words and etiquette rather than fisticuffs on the hockey rink, a benches-clearing brawl in baseball or a shot-for-shot showdown on the golf course.

The two are in a three-way tie for the lead at the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where stormy weather has been the backdrop to a contentious weekend of play.

It all started at the par-five second hole during the rain-interrupted third round on Saturday when Garcia was in mid-swing as spectators across the fairway reacted with cheers and howls when Woods prepared to play a shot.


“Well, obviously Tiger was on the left and it was my shot to hit,” Garcia said in an interview with NBC during a weather delay Saturday.

“He moved all the crowd that he needed to move, I waited for that. I wouldn’t say that he didn’t see that I was ready, but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit and right as I was in the top of the backswing, I think he must have pulled like a five-wood or a three-wood and obviously everybody started screaming.

“So that didn’t help very much. But it was unfortunate because ... I mean I might have hit it there if nothing happens, you never know ... but if I hit a good shot there and maybe make birdie, it gets my day started in a bit of a different way.”

Woods later said in an interview that he’d been told it was OK for him to prepare to hit his shot.

“The marshals, they told me he already hit, so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot, and then I hear his comments afterwards, and not real surprising that he’s complaining about something,” Woods said.

Garcia was at a loss after hearing Woods’ explanation.

“There’s really not much you can do,” Garcia said. “I think that I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players.”

Of course, the controversy spilled into Sunday when each player was forced to complete their third round and then wait until about 11:45 a.m. PDT to begin the final round, which might not be completed because of more stormy weather.

Luckily, Garcia will be in the final pairing of the day with co-leader and PGA Tour rookie David Lingmerth of Sweden while Woods will be in the next-to-last group with unheralded American Casey Wittenberg.

“He’s not my favorite guy to play with, he’s not the nicest guy on tour,” Garcia told ESPN’s Bob Holtzman of Woods on Sunday.

“We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”


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