PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It’s only apropos that a week that began under a contentious cloud will end that way.
A parade of thunderstorms cut short Saturday’s third round at The Players Championship, but it was an increasingly blustery relationship between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia that will continue to dominate the conversation heading into Sunday’s Mother’s Day Marathon.
When play resumes early Sunday, Woods and Garcia will have four holes to play in Round 3, which may be four too many for both players after the duo’s already chilly relationship took an even cooler turn.
Lost in the contentiousness of Saturday – tension born from what Garcia suggested was an ill-timed club selection by Woods on the second hole – was a crowded leaderboard that featured Henrik Stenson (10 under), Garcia (10 under), Woods (10 under) and Hunter Mahan (8 under).
All total, 16 players were within five shots of the lead when play was halted by darkness. But – with respect to little-known rookie frontrunner David Lingmerth – it will be Woods and Garcia that will dominate the conversation on Sunday following an incident that only expanded the rift between the two.
Before Saturday’s storms arrived, a fast-moving system that delayed play for about two hours, Garcia was distracted while hitting his second shot into the par-5 second hole when Woods, who had missed his drive in the trees, pulled a club and caused the crowd to react.
“I think he must have pulled a 5-wood or 3-wood out and obviously everybody started screaming, so that didn’t help very much. It was unfortunate,” Garcia told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands. “I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players.”
As darkness descended on TPC Sawgrass, Woods had a vastly different, and even more pointed, take on the incident.
“He doesn’t know all the facts,” said Woods, who is tied with Garcia at 10 under par and two strokes behind Lingmerth. “The marshal said he’d already hit and I pulled the club . . . I heard his comments afterwards. It’s not surprising he’s complaining about something.”
When told of Woods’ comments, Garcia replied: “That’s fine, at least I’m true to myself. I know what I’m doing. He can do what he wants.”