Friday, May 25, 2018

Garcia, Tiger trade barbs at rain-delayed Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — A rift between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia attracted all the attention on a stormy day at TPC Sawgrass as Swedish rookie David Lingmerth quietly went about his business and wound up atop the leader­board Saturday in the rain-delayed Players Championship.

Lingmerth finished a wild day with an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th and a 10-foot birdie on the island-green 17th to reach 12 under when the third round was suspended because of darkness. Lingmerth and seven others were still on the course after the round was delayed nearly two hours because of threatening storms.

Woods, Garcia and Henrik Stenson were two shots behind and also hadn't completed their rounds.

The Woods-Garcia relationship already was frosty, and an incident on the par-5 second hole as the two played together is sure to add another layer of chill.

Garcia was hitting his second shot from the fairway when he was disrupted by cheers from the large crowd gathered around Woods in the trees. Garcia snapped his head over to the left and glared.

The cheer was for Woods taking a fairway metal from his bag, a risky shot because he had only a 15-foot gap to escape the woods.

During the storm delay, Garcia suggested in a TV interview that Woods was the instigator.

"Well, obviously Tiger was on the left and it was my shot to hit," Garcia said. "He 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 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, so that didn't help very much."

Woods said Garcia didn't have his facts straight: "The marshals, they told me he already hit, so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot. And then I hear his comments afterwards, and not real surprising that he's complaining about something."

Asked if they talked it over when play resumed, Woods responded, "We didn't do a lot of talking."

Garcia made bogey on the second hole to lose the one-shot lead he had at the start of the round. Woods, one shot behind at the start, pulled off his shot, then blasted out of the bunker to about 10 feet and made birdie to take the lead.

They were on 15 when play was stopped. Woods gave a brief TV interview, and Garcia went over to shake his hand.

Garcia didn't back away from his TV interview.

"It happens to me when I'm in Spain," the Spaniard said of the large crowds. "Obviously, it happens to him everywhere he goes. … Sometimes you have to pay attention to what's going on, because if the other guy's hitting and you do something when you're in the crowd, the crowd is going to respond and it's going to affect the other player."

Told about Woods' comment regarding him complaining, Garcia replied, "That's fine. At least I'm true to myself. I know what I'm doing, and he can do whatever he wants."

Woods and Garcia have never been friendly. Woods was said to be put off when Garcia celebrated wildly after winning a "Battle at Bighorn" exhibition in 2000. At the 2002 U.S. Open, which Woods won wire-to-wire, Garcia complained that play should have been stopped in the second round because of rain.

Saturday was the sixth time they had played together in the final group on the weekend. Woods won the previous five times.

Players Championship leaderboard

David Lingmerth*-12

Henrik Stenson*-10

Sergio Garcia*-10

Tiger Woods*-10

Jeff Maggert -9

Casey Wittenberg* -9

Ryan Palmer* -9


Steve Stricker-6

Rory McIlroy-5

Adam Scott-4

Matt Kuchar-4

* Third round not completed

The leaders in relation to par when Saturday's third round was suspended.

TV today: 2, Ch. 8

Weather: High 81, 30 percent chance rain