Garcia and Woods Spat
I had no intention of mentioning Sergio Garcia again, at least not for a long while, but with all the rivalry noise spilling into social media this week, his name just kept coming up. Of course, we’ve all seen rivalries go over the top in a lot of sports through a lot of years, and the Garcia/Woods tango is not the only one in town, although perhaps the most interesting in rhetorical terms.
It’s been going for a while. Sergio played Woods in a ’99 TV match and inexplicably won it – Woods felt that his opponent over-celebrated, but hey, how many times is Garcia going to pull off the win against his better? Woods beat him in the ’06 Open, in a round for which Sergio wore all yellow. Woods texted to his fans – “I just bludgeoned Tweety Bird.” Sergio has had other dance partners, such as Padraig Harrington, suggesting that the Irishman was lucky to beat him at the ’07 Open. Harrington inferred that Sergio “gagged away” his chance at the ’08 PGA in a late pond altercation, and that the two have “zero in common.” I agree.
Competitive humans have been doing this since the fight over the last coconut in caveman days. We knew it existed in golf, but the news didn’t get to us as easily as it does today. Walter Hagen called Gene Sarazen “kid” in the ’23 PGA and the little guy pasted him all over the course. Even further back, Old Tom Morris had a falling out with friend and teammate Allan Robertson, generally regarded as the first professional golfer. Apparently, he caught Robertson with a guttie percha ball, the direct competitor to his own, and the rift never healed.
Vijay Singh and Rory Sabbatini, described by some as the two “surliest” players on tour, have gone at each other, and the Light Heavyweight title was almost decided by Singh and Phil Mickelson in the locker room after a debate about spike marks on a putting path.
Social media can be a scary thing these days, but there are times in the “wayback” where I would have loved to see players coming off 18 handed some good texting technology. Ben Hogan, who was famous for not really liking anybody, and being liked by only a rare few, was in a particular snit with Sam Snead, who was himself, no fainting violet. It seems that in 1950, Snead won eleven tournaments, and Hogan won one. Unfortunately for Snead, it was the U.S. Open, and Hogan had come back from a life-threatening automobile accident. Hogan won Player of the Year, and I can only assume that Snead’s commentary could have wiped out the tobacco crop in his state. Pity for the more sensationalistic media that he couldn’t text or twitter – would have been one for the ages.
Still, for the most constant failure to man up or even make sense – envelope please – The 2013 winner of the Wet Wedge Award – is Sergio Garcia. He beat out some stiff competition, too, such as Tom Kite, who uttered the immortal words, “I made the putt. It just didn’t go in.” Many thought that one would be a sure winner. Of course, there was another candidate who claimed that his drive was caught in the “backwash of a jet passing overhead.”
For Garcia and Woods, the game of golf has apparently expanded to new criteria. I thought they were just going to play golf. Sergio admits Woods is correct in calling him a whiner (don’t think I would have admitted that one), and that he’ll win the majority of times (true, but why prophesy it?) but that “he’s not going to step on me. I’m not afraid of him.” It is gratifying to know as well that he is proud of never changing. I said that on the playground once, and the beatings were thorough and regular for the next six months. If someone had only told me…and Sergio…to lay low.