Update: Woods wins; Garcia finds water
When they finished their rain-delayed third round Sunday morning, Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia exchanged a positively Belichickian handshake and went their separate ways to prepare for the final round of the Players Championship. But one thing remained clear: the golfers, who are tied for the lead with David Lingmerth, don’t care for one another and have little interest in patching up their relationship.
“I’m not going to lie,” Garcia said (via ESPN). “He’s not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.”
He didn’t back down from that in an interview a little later, explaining to the Golf Channel that “It’s good for both of us. We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”
The two have a history and part of its stems from Woods’s dominance of Garcia. From the Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner:
After finishing second to Woods at the 1999 PGA, the then-20-year-old Garcia celebrated like he won a major – more on that in a bit – when he defeated a flu-ridden Woods in the “Battle at Bighorn,” a made-for-TV exhibition in 2000.
At the 2002 U.S. Open, Garcia complained that play should have been suspended during the second round because of heavy rains. He grumbled to reporters that if Woods had been on the course, play would have been called. Paired in the final round that year at Bethpage Black, Woods shot 72 to Garcia’s 74 and won his second U.S. Open trophy. Garcia, of course, is still majorless.
In the final round of the 2006 British Open, Garcia dressed head-to-toe in canary yellow and was crushed by Woods, 67-73. Afterward, Woods reportedly texted a friend: “I just bludgeoned Tweety Bird.”
On Saturday, the depth of the relationship’s fracture was plain. Woods’s second shot on the second hole had veered over into the pine needles and, while Garcia was preparing for his second shot, Woods reached for a club. That prompted a cheer from the crowd and Garcia’s shot went awry. Garcia glared in Woods’s direction, but replays showed that Garcia had not begun his swing. He could have stepped back from the ball.
“Well, obviously Tiger was on the left and it was my shot to hit,” Garcia told NBC during a weather delay. “He moved all of 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 5-wood or a 3-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 spoke after play was interrupted for the day. “Obviously, he doesn’t know all the facts,” Woods said. “The marshal said he already hit and I pulled the 5-wood and hit. … It’s not really surprising he was complaining about something.”
Garcia, after play was halted, said: “I don’t care. At least I’m true to myself.”
Oof. If there were any justice in the world, these two would be paired for the final round today, right? Instead, Woods will be in the second-to-last group with Casey Wittenberg, teeing off at TPC Sawgrass at 2:28 p.m. EDT. Garcia and Lingmerth tee off 10 minutes later. Woods was unconcerned about not going last.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said Sunday morning. “I’m tied for the lead. I’m right there and I’m playing well. I’m going to go back to the hotel, get some rest and get back at it in the afternoon.”
Maybe there’ll be a playoff.
Players Championship: Leaderboard