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Sergio Garcia Claims Tiger Woods Distracted Him at Players Championship

Relations between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods have never been particularly friendly, and Garcia did nothing to change that on Saturday during Round 3 of The Players Championship.

On the par-five second hole, a beautiful angle provided Garcia the opportunity to attack the green in two strokes. However, he was visibly frustrated after something distracted him in his backswing. Garcia blamed Woods, who the Spaniard accused of pulling a club while he was hitting.

 

Sergio Garcia on incident with Tiger Woods

When inclement weather halted play at TPC Sawgrass, the always brutally honest Garcia had the following to say to the Golf Channel about the incident, as documented by CBS Sports' Kyle Porter:

I wouldn't say [Woods] didn't see that I was ready, but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit. 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.

 

The ensuing crowd noise that occurred when Woods pulled a wood out of his bag—after misfiring off the tee and landing in the trees and pine straw—was apparently what threw Garcia off on his second shot.

 

UPDATE: Saturday, May 11 at 9:20 p.m. ET by Matt Fitzgerald

Woods responded to Garcia's accusation after the round, asserting that his playing companion should have heard his side of the story, because Woods didn't know Garcia was hitting when he pulled the club. ESPN's Bob Harig documented Woods' reply:

Obviously, [Garcia] doesn't know all the facts. The marshals told me he had already hit. I pulled the club and played my shot. Then I hear his comments afterward. Not really surprising that he's complaining about something.

Tiger Woods responds to Sergio Garcia; Garcia reacts

---End of update---


ESPN analyzes the Garcia-Woods incident

At the time, Garcia was 11 under for the tournament, and Woods was one stroke behind. By the end of the hole, Garcia had dropped a stroke, and Woods had birdied to take the outright lead.

Does Sergio Garcia have legitimate cause to call out Tiger Woods publicly over alleged distraction?

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Video replay provided by the NBC telecast during the delay showed that Garcia was right, but the 2008 Players champion did himself no favors. Between how he reacted on the course and bringing it up publicly, it wasn't exactly the best move—especially with 12 holes still to complete.

Garcia has a record of deflecting blame from his game to explain his shortcomings on the course. After losing to Padraig Harrington at the 2007 British Open in a playoff, he explained that he was playing against "more than the field" of his fellow competitors.

This accusation is far more mundane in its genesis, though. Jason Sobel of Golf Channel suggests Woods will only be more motivated by the latest controversial chatter:

Sports Illustrated golf contributor Stephanie Wei provided a rare defense of Garcia in this instance, praising his honesty.

Garcia and Woods tied David Lingmerth for first place atop the leaderboard with a score of -11 following the completion of Round 3. Thankfully for both men, they will not be paired together as Woods became the odd-man out of the final-round pairing.

Woods clearly wasn't thrilled with waking up to Garcia on Sunday morning, as documented by CBS' Kyle Porter.

Still, Woods went on to performance just as solid as he had been the previous three days to finish tied with Garcia and Lingmerth. 

Garcia was especially pleased with not having to be paired together again, according to Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard and Will Gray.

Woods will tee off at 2:28 p.m. ET with Casey Wittenberg, while Garcia and Lingmerth will tee off at 2:38 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.

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