For better or worse, Sergio Garcia just can’t help himself. Only he could create drama on national television during the weather delay on Saturday at The Players Championship.
His not-so-friendly rivalry with Tiger Woods is well documented (i.e. Tiger’s text to a friend after throttling Sergio at the ’06 Open Championship: “I just bludgeoned Tweety Bird…”).
On the par-5 no. 2 at TPC Sawgrass, Tiger hooked his drive into the trees. Meanwhile, Sergio striped a beautiful shot to the middle of the fairway. As Sergio was about to hit his second shot, Tiger pulled a wood and the crowd reacted excitedly and noisily to see he was going for the green. (Because OMG, TIGER IS HITTING A WOOD!)
That disturbance distracted Sergio, causing him to push his drive into the trees and led to a bogey.
Play was suspended when Tiger and Sergio were on the 7th hole. To kill some time, NBC announcers chatted with a few of the players, including Sergio. Golf Channel’s Steve Sands asked him about the incident and Sergio replied honestly.
“Well, obviously Tiger was on the left and it was my shot to hit,” said Sergio. “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 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.”
Sands followed up, asking Sergio how he deals with adversity.
“Well there is really not much you can do,” said Sergio. 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. The only thing you can do is that. If something bad happens, you try to deal with it the best way possible. I try to move on and forget about it. I hit a couple of good shots after that and kind of settled down a little bit. It would have been nice to make a couple of those putts.”
I mean, you do have a sense of when the other guy is going to hit, but Tiger probably didn’t know the crowd was going to react that way — well, he probably did, but he wasn’t consciously thinking about it. (But if it was indeed gamesmanship, Tiger was a jerk and Sergio was a baby. Is any of that surprising?)
Naturally, Sergio haters all started moaning and calling him names. Alright, fine, you’re entitled to your own opinion. Just as Sergio is.
He’s honest to a fault and a bit emotional, but that’s also why people enjoy watching him. We love guys who are passionate and speak their minds, but then we also bash them when they say something controversial.
When play was suspended, Woods and Garcia were both 10-under, one back of current leader and 2009 Players Champ Henrik Stenson.
Fun tidbit: When Sergio got to his ball, which was in the right rough, a fan hollered, “Nothing personal, Sergio, but I hope you miss it.”
Sergio didn’t miss a beat and said, “You don’t want to leave early, do you?”
The heckler certainly wasn’t expecting that response (if I had only taken a picture of the his face!) and he shut up real quick.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)