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Mom, Sergio’s crying again

14 May
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia

Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia wasted little time butting heads yet again. Credit: sports.yahoo.com

Last Sunday, Tiger Woods won his fourth tournament of the 2013 PGA Tour season with a victory at The Players Championship. The victory was his 78th overall and marked the earliest point Woods has reached four wins in a single season during his career.

Perhaps bigger news that came out of the weekend was the renewed rivalry between Woods and Sergio Garcia.

Woods and Garcia were paired together in the third round for the first time since the final round of the 2006 British Open.

The two high-profile golfers have some history and have never really liked each other. In 2000, Woods reportedly didn’t appreciate the way Garcia celebrated his win in the “Battle at Bighorn,” which was an exhibition match-play event. Two years later at the U.S. Open, Garcia complained about golfing in the rain. He said play would have been suspended if Woods was on the course at the time.

Saturday’s round didn’t do much to help the cause.

On the par-5 second hole, Woods hooked his tee shot into the trees. Garcia hit his drive on the right side of the fairway. While Woods was figuring out his next shot, he pulled a club from his bag, and Garcia hit his second shot well right of the green. The shot wasn’t as bad as his reaction. Garcia angrily looked over at the gallery surrounding Woods as if the commotion prompted the result of his shot. Garcia ultimately bogeyed the hole, and Woods made birdie from a right-greenside bunker.

During a two-hour weather delay, Garcia told NBC that the timing of Woods’ action was distracting.

“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,” Garcia said.

Woods fired back, saying, “Not really surprising that he’s complaining about something.”

NBC showed the sequence during the weather delay, and it showed Woods pulled his club while Garcia was standing over the ball, not during his backswing. In addition, Woods was surrounded by spectators, which would have made it difficult for him to see if Garcia was in the process of playing his shot. He most likely didn’t expect a reaction from the crowd by simply pulling a club from his bag either.

Woods is arguably the toughest athlete mentally in sports. There are some delusional fans out there who will say he intentionally attempted to distract Garcia. To them I say:

This is the same Tiger Woods who rarely watches his playing partners putt, the same Tiger Woods who is typically in such a zone that he doesn’t care what his opponent does. You mean to tell me that Woods was threatened by Garcia to the point where he deliberately tried to throw him off? Come on.

Instead, let’s talk about Garcia’s history. It’s no secret that he has always been somewhat of a whiner.

“I’m not going to lie,” Garcia said on Saturday. “He’s not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.” Of course, Woods wouldn’t be my favorite guy to play with either if he beat me all the time.

More often than not, Woods has gotten the better of Garcia in head-to-head matchups. That trend continued on Saturday.

Prior to Saturday, they had been paired together 19 times in PGA Tour events. Woods shot the lower score 12 times and tied Garcia four times. Woods had bettered Garcia all six times they had played together on the weekend.

“I’m not the bad guy here – I’m the victim,” Garcia said. In this case, Garcia is a victim of self-pity more than anything.

When Garcia reached the tee box on the famous par-3 17th hole in the final round, he was tied with Woods for the lead.

That changed quickly.

On average, the “island hole” at TPC Sawgrass claims more than 100,000 golf balls each year. Garcia made a generous contribution, dumping two balls in the water. He carded a quadruple-bogey on the hole and immediately fell out of contention. I wonder who he blamed for that one. Tiger? His playing partner David Lingmerth? Who knows?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Sergio. No one else does, especially not 55-year-old John Cook, who is one of Woods’ close friends. The former golf professional had some thoughts about Garcia’s antics.

“Until he accepts the fact that he alone is the guy who can change things, not the golfing gods, then he’s going to end up every week saying the same thing – ’I’m the victim’, ’why me?”, Cook said. “Sergio’s got to get over that and accept that as he’s a really good golfer. He needs to win big championships. But until he changes his whole persona and attitude he’s not going to win the really big events.”

Woods doesn’t have that problem.

Keep winning tournaments, Tiger. I’m loving every minute of it. And if you have some extra cash left over from your winnings, do us all a favor and buy Sergio a box of tissues.

Whose side are you on?