Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia controversy persists with conflicting account of No. 1's actions

Stuart Franklin

The Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia saga takes an interesting twist, as two marshals claim they said nothing to Woods about his third-round playing partner during the brouhaha on the second hole.

Tiger Woods’ simmering tiff with Sergio Garcia boiled over during the weekend and made for terrific TV viewing Saturday at The Players Championship. The public squabble certainly added a healthy dollop of drama to Sunday’s proceedings, as the 14-time major champion overcame a water hazard down the stretch to win the tourney while the owner of no major trophies double-dunked his way out of a potential playoff with his BFF and finished in a tie for eighth.

Only Garcia knows whether the airing of their mutual antipathy had anything to do with his stunning collapse on the notorious par-3 17th hole. Anyone within earshot of a television, however, is aware of what the stars of “As the Golf Ball Drops” had to say about what happened on the second hole of the third round at TPC Sawgrass. Tiger was left of center in the trees and pulling his 5-wood out of his bag to the cheers of fans, and Sergio mishit his shot and then stared daggers in his opponent's direction.

During a weather delay, Garcia complained in a TV interview that Woods caused his error. “It’s very simple,” Garcia told NBC. “You have to pay attention to what’s going on because the other guy is hitting. You do something when you’re in the crowd, and the crowd is going to respond.”

Woods, when apprised of Garcia’s remarks, fired back that “the marshals” informed him that his playing partner had already hit, "so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot and then I hear his comments afterward. Not real surprising that he’s complaining about something.”

All good stuff -- except maybe more than a tad self-serving from Team Tiger, according to Sports Illustrated’s Michael Bamberger, who actually did speak with the volunteers in question.

“Well, when they heard that remark from Woods, the marshals were surprised,” Bamberger wrote on Monday. “One of them, Gary Anderson, said on Sunday, ‘He didn’t ask us nothing, and we didn’t say nothing. We’re told not to talk to the players.’”

John North, Anderson’s boss, chief marshal for the opening three holes, Vietnam vet, a marshal for 30 years, and a Tiger booster, supported his fellow volunteer’s version of the story.

“Nothing was said to us and we certainly said nothing to him,” North told Bamberger. “I was disappointed to hear him make those remarks. We’re there to help the players and enhance the experience of the fans. He was saying what was good for him. It lacked character.”

Tiger's critics, fueled by the forensic evidence suggesting that the 78-time PGA Tour winner took a more favorable drop on the 14th hole Sunday after drenching his tee shot, will surely add this little nugget to their scrapbooks.

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