Sergio Garcia's complaint regarding Tiger Woods distracting him during the third round of last week's Players Championship may have been an even bigger story than Woods actually winning the tournament.
Now it seems as though Garcia may have been justified.
According to Michael Bamberger of Sports Illustrated, during Garcia's backswing on the second hole of the third round, Woods pulled a five-wood from his bag, and it elicited a response from the crowd. Garcia then hit a poor shot and later blamed it on the fact that he was distracted.
Woods claimed that course marshals told him Garcia had already played his shot and that it was safe for him to do the same, but chief marshal John North is disputing Woods' assertion. He claims that neither he nor fellow marshal Gary Anderson said anything to Woods:
Nothing was said to us and we certainly said nothing to him. I was disappointed to hear him make those remarks. We’re there to help the players and enhance the experience of the fans. He was saying what was good for him. It lacked character.
Garcia wasn't shy about placing blame on Woods following the incident. He was adamant that Tiger's action and the crowd's subsequent reaction caused him to hit a poor shot.
"It’s very simple," Garcia said during an NBC interview (h/t Bamberger). "You have to pay attention to what’s going on because the other guy is hitting. You do something when you’re in the crowd, and the crowd is going to respond."
Woods didn't deny pulling the club from his bag during Garcia's swing, but he said he had clearance to play 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 afterward and it’s not real surprising that he’s complaining about something.
There is clearly no love lost between Woods and Garcia, and it showed throughout the third round and afterward.
Kyle Porter of CBS Sports captured a fitting image during Garcia's tee shot on the 18th hole on Sunday. Woods and Garcia were finishing up the third round after it was postponed Saturday due to rain. Woods, perhaps sarcastically, made sure that he wasn't a distraction to Garcia on that occasion.
It's nearly impossible to know who is telling the truth, but Woods was able to shrug off the incident. He went on to win The Players Championship with a score of 13-under par. Garcia, on the other hand, finished in a tie for eighth as he imploded down the stretch.
Garcia was tied with Woods as he teed off on the famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, but things unraveled from there. The Spaniard hit two balls into the water on that hole and finished with a quadruple-bogey. He then followed it up with a double-bogey on the 18th as his tee shot found the drink yet again.
It was a nightmarish end to a tournament that had so much promise for Garcia. Woods, meanwhile, has another Players Championship title to his credit as well as the massive winner's purse in his bank account ($1.71 million).
The fact that the course marshals are supporting Garcia's claims is nothing more than a consolation prize. He once again folded when in direct competition with Woods.
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