Tiger Woods may have had some added incentive to beat Sergio Garcia on Sunday at the Players Championship.
Woods does not like being accused of being anything less than a consummate professional on the golf course, especially in front of the media and golf fans.
Referring to his pairing with Woods in the third round on Saturday, according to Cindy Boren of the Washington Post, Garcia made this comment to the media about playing with Woods:
“I’m not going to lie, he’s not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.”
Woods used Sergio’s comments on Saturday as more fuel to fire his already insatiable appetite for another big win.
An issue arose on the second hole early in the third round on Saturday. Garcia hit his drive into the middle of the fairway on the par-5, while Woods pulled his drive far left into the trees.
As Woods chose a fairway wood from his bag the crowd surrounding him cheered his aggressive play from the trees.
Their cheer coincided with Garcia’s backswing. He came up and out of the shot and pushed it badly into the trees on the right side of the fairway. Clearly displeased, he immediately turned and glared at Woods.
During a weather delay on Saturday, Garcia had this to say on NBC concerning his missed shot on No. 2:
“He (Woods) moved all of the crowd that he needed to move, I waited for that. I wouldn’t say that he didn’t see that I was ready, but you have to 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 a 5-wood or a 3-wood and obviously everybody started screaming. So that didn’t help very much.”
This is yet another incident in the continuing saga of the Woods/Garcia rivalry. Woods and Garcia have been paired together five times and except for the made for television “Battle of the Bighorn” exhibition match in 2000, Woods has won every time.
After play was suspended on Saturday, Woods made these comments to the press concerning the matter:
“Obviously, he (Garcia) doesn’t know all of the facts. The Marshall said he already hit and I pulled the 5-wood and hit. It’s not really surprising he was complaining about something.”
Tiger Woods likes to win. The money is nice, but he plays to win. He will use every advantage given to him to try to win. When he is leading, he purposely hits to the safe side of the green to force his opponent to play to the pin.
He is one of the best strategists the game of golf has ever seen. He knows his strengths as well as his weaknesses. He rarely tries a shot that he is not comfortable attempting.
Garcia, on the other hand, has some insecurity issues and will allow outside influences to affect his play.
When it was announced that Woods and Garcia would be paired together on Saturday golf fans everywhere made bets on how long it would take Garcia to become distracted.
To his credit, except for the situation at No. 2, Garcia remained calm and even with a two-hour rain delay and an overnight suspension of play during the round, posted an even-par 72.
Woods’ record at TPC Sawgrass is not impressive. He only has one win in this tournament in 16 starts.
TPC Sawgrass is a position golf course. Woods cannot use his power to dominate shorter hitters here. He is required to hit certain spots on the golf course to set up iron shots into the greens and avoid the abundant quantities of sand and water that Pete Dye has littered about the golf course.
This is his fourth win in 2013 and it is the earliest Woods has won four events in a calendar year.
He is also preparing for the U.S. Open that will be held at Merion Country Club near Philadelphia next month. Merion is an old course and will play short and tight. Woods will be forced to leave his driver in the bag and play to certain spots just like he did this week at TPC Sawgrass.
Sergio calling out Woods and making an issue out of the club pulling incident on Saturday only added fuel to a very hot fire that is burning right now in Tiger Woods.
He knows “Old Man Tyme” is closing in on his golf career. If he is to reach 19 career major championships the time to start winning is at hand.
He is a 37-year-old man playing on a 60-year-old’s legs. He has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
This win on a golf course that does not allow him to use his length and makes him play like everyone else has to be very satisfying.
The fact that Sergio Garcia drowned his golf ball on No. 17 trying to chase him is icing on the cake.