Playing the Field: Sergio Garcia calls out Tiger Woods

Nothing gets blood flowing like a good sports rivalry. Magic and Bird. Nicklaus and Palmer. Ali and Frazier. McEnroe and Borg. Chamberlain and Russell.

And if things get a little nasty, all the better. Well Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods got a little nasty yesterday in the third round of the Players Championship. But let’s get this straight — Garcia is not a rival of Woods.

You just need to look at two numbers: 14 and 0. Those would be the number of major titles for each golfer. But Garcia’s ego still thinks those numbers are reversed apparently.

In the third round, while Garcia was paired up with Woods, the Spaniard was hitting his second shot on the second hole when he shanked it into the trees. During a weather delay (which actually ended the day), Garcia blamed the miss-hit on Woods pulling out his club for his own second shot right in the middle of his swing, eliciting a cheer from the gallery.

“I wouldn’t say he didn’t see that I was ready, but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit,” Garcia said. “Right as I was on top of the backswing, he pulled a 5-wood or 3-wood out of the rough and, obviously, everybody started screaming, so that didn’t help very much.”

Aww, poor Sergio.

He pulled out a club; he didn’t shout “you suck!” at the top of your backswing. Garcia has spent his whole underachieving career looking for someone else to blame. Every golfer knows, and Woods called him out on it yesterday.

“It’s not real surprising he’s complaining about something,” Woods responded.

It’s unfortunate really, because I remember watching the 1999 PGA Championship very vividly. Garcia was 19 years old. Woods was 23. The two dueled on the final day for the major title. Everyone remembers the infamous “tree shot” by Garcia, as he hopped up the fairway looking to see where his ball landed.

Now, 14 years later, that is still the highlight of his career.

Oh, and by the way, Woods won the 1999 PGA Championship. Garcia finished second.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. It’s not easy to defend Woods, but somehow Garcia brings it out.


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