The strained relationship between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia took another turn Saturday at The Players Championship.
Garcia suggested that Woods could have shown better judgment in pulling a club from his bag early in their third round, telling NBC during a two-hour weather delay that he felt the timing of Woods’ action distracted him.
NBC showed the sequence during the weather delay, and the noise occurred while Garcia stood over the ball, not while he was in his backswing.
Woods, though, disagreed.
Woods had hooked his tee shot into the trees and was trying to figure out his second shot to the par-5 second hole as Garcia waited to play his second from the fairway. After his shot sailed well to the right of the green, Garcia reacted angrily, looking over to the commotion surrounding Woods.
Garcia went on to bogey the hole. Woods got up-and-down for birdie from the right-greenside bunker.
“Well, obviously, Tiger was on the left, and it was my shot to hit,” Garcia said in the television interview. “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 my 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 in there if nothing happens. You never know. But if I hit a good shot there and maybe make a birdie, it gets my day started in a bit of a different way.”
Woods, speaking after the third round was suspended due to darkness, disagreed with the Garcia’s assessment.
“Obviously, he doesn’t know all the facts,” Woods told reporters. “The marshals told me he had already hit. I pulled the club and played my shot. Then I hear his comments afterward. Not really surprising that he’s complaining about something.”
Told what Woods said, Garcia responded: “That’s fine. At least I’m true to myself. I know what I’m doing, and he can do whatever he wants.”
In addition, Woods, surrounded by spectators, would have had a hard time seeing Garcia play his shot, and it’s unlikely he would expect a reaction just because he took a club from his bag.
Garcia was asked by NBC how you overcome that kind of adversity.
“There’s really not much you can do,” he said. “I think that I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful (with) what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players.”
Garcia didn’t back down when NBC interviewed him again after play was called due to darkness.
“It happens to me when I’m in Spain,” he said of the large crowds. “Obviously, it happens to him everywhere he goes. He gets a lot of people following, and I think you have to be very careful because there’s another guy playing. Sometimes you have to pay attention to what’s going on because if the other guy’s hitting and you do something when you’re in the crowd, the crowd is going to respond and it’s going to affect the other player.
“I think sometimes you have to be a bit more careful.”
Dating to a 2000 made-for-TV exhibition in which Garcia defeated Woods in a match-play event and celebrated like it was a big tournament, the relationship between the two has been strained.