Saturday, the third round of the Players Championship was ‘interesting’. There were surprises, lead changes, weather delays, and controversy. And the round wasn’t finished until early Sunday morning. The result was a 3 way lead going into the final round, and Woods and Garcia will not be paired on the final day.
Beginning the final round, Tiger Woods will be playing with Casey Wittenberg. The final pairing will see Sergio Garcia and 25 year old rookie David Lingmerth from Sweden on the first tee.
Woods, Garcia, and Lingmerth are all 11 under par. Rules decided that Woods and Garcia would not play together, and that’s probably a very good thing for both of them. They don’t like each other.
Announcers attempt pretense that the relationship between the two is ‘cordial’, but that’s far from the truth.
Tensions between them began in 1999, when a 19 year old Garcia “stared down” a 23 year old Tiger after sinking a long putt. Tiger went on to defeat Garcia in the PGA Championship, winning his second major.
Yesterday the par 5 second hole increased the tensions between the two.
Woods had hit his shot into the trees on the left of the fairway. Garcia was the first to play. As he was at the top of his backswing, a mild roar erupted to his left. Woods had selected a club which meant he was about to attempt a challenging shot. Garcia’s ball went off to the right, creating a difficult 3rd shot, and eventually made bogey on the hole.
Garcia contends Woods acted purposefully when he took the club out of his bag and caused the crowd to cheer.
“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 5-wood or a 3-wood and obviously everybody started screaming,” Garcia said on TV during the delay. “So that didn’t help very much.”
Woods’ response was less than defensive.
“The marshals, they told me he already hit, so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot,” Woods said. “And then I hear his comments afterwards, and not real surprising that he’s complaining about something.”
I watched the entire day on television. Tiger couldn’t see Garcia, and his action was most definitely not intentional.
Garcia won’t have an opportunity to whine today.
The pairings are interesting, but fans and experts alike will be very surprised if either Woods or Garcia is not raising the trophy, and collecting the 1.7 million dollar prize by the end of the day.
The Guardian Express