Hey Sergio, Get Over It

The recent spat between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods says a lot about the two players' respective careers

May 15, 2013

Let's talk about Tiger, Sergio, marshals and what happened in the third round of the Players. I think I have something to add to the discussion. I was there, standing on the second fairway when this all took place.

I have also covered both Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia for their entire professional careers, and before. I first saw Tiger play at the 1995 Masters and Sergio at the 1996 British Open, both were amateurs then and I know a bit about both of them.

Here is my conclusion: There may have been bad communication between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia -- and the marshals -- concerning whose turn it was to hit on No. 2 at TPC Sawgrass. But there was no bad behavior, especially on the part of Tiger.

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And my bottom line on the incident is this: Championship golf tests not only your physical skill and mental ability to make decisions under pressure, it also examines your character, specifically how well you cope when life deals you a bad hand.

Sergio got a bad break. It happens. Move on. He didn't.

When it comes to mental toughness, Woods has Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as his only peers. Garcia has Jean Van de Velde. That's why the major championship scorecard between Woods and Garcia reads 14-0, advantage Tiger.

A national magazine quoted a marshal on the scene as saying Woods never asked if Garcia had hit, as Woods later said he did. Now, the local newspaper -- the Florida Times Union -- has another marshal on the scene saying he erroneously told Tiger that Sergio had hit.

"The comments from the marshals in today's story definitively show that Tiger was telling the truth about being told Sergio had hit," Tiger's agent, Mark Steinberg, told GolfDigest.com. "I hope this demonstrates to some reporters the importance of accuracy and not jumping to misplaced conclusions."

As I said, poor communication, not poor behavior. But the bottom line is the inability of Garcia to be able to put the entire incident behind him. He still had 34 holes to play and plenty of time to bury the events of No. 2.

Let's flash back a few weeks to the Masters. In Friday's second round, Woods' third shot to the par-5 15th hole hit the flagstick and bounced not only away from the hole but also into the creek. He takes a penalty drop and makes a bogey. A massively bad break.

The next day, that 6 becomes an 8 when the Masters Competition Committee decides, based on Tiger's words to the media and not on the committee's own nonexistent investigation, that Woods took a bad drop. A massively bad break magnified.

There were then those who shouted Tiger should be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard or that he should withdraw for the good of the game. In fact, the video of his drop was inconclusive and he was penalized only because of his own honest words.

Related: 13 ill-timed water balls in golf history

What was lost in that discussion is that while Woods took a bad drop and admitted it, he was being protected not from his own ignorance of the rules -- he merely experienced a brain cramp after his bad break and combined two options into one -- but from the incompetence of the Competition Committee, which did not do its job.

What was also lost is that Woods did not complain and certainly did not give up. He finished T-4 in the Masters, four strokes out of the playoff between Angel Cabrera and winner Adam Scott -- pretty much the number of strokes he gave away on No. 15 on Friday because of bad luck.

OK, now let's get back to the Players and the second hole on Saturday. Tiger drove into the left trees and Sergio was in the right fairway. I walked down the left side of the fairway because the hazard on the right side short of the green makes the left the side you need to be on.

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