Tiger Woods on-course integrity has been under attack since he refused to withdraw from the Masters following that ball-drop fiasco. Since dropping another ball in an iffy spot following a duck hook into the water in Sunday’s Players Championship finale, online conspiracy theorists have had a field day at the expense of the world No. 1.
Then came damning charges from two marshals that Woods lied about an incident involving him and Sergio Garcia during the third round at TPC Sawgrass. After mishitting his second shot on hole No. 2 on Saturday, Garcia blamed Woods for distracting him by choosing a club from his bag while standing some 50 yards to his left and out of view.
A public spat between the two antagonists ensued after their extremely unfriendly round, with each party sniping at the other. During the war of words, Woods claimed that a marshal told him Garcia had already hit, an assertion soon rebutted by two volunteer marshals who said they never spoke with Tiger.
“Nothing was said to us and we certainly said nothing to him,” John North told Sports Illustrated. “I was disappointed to hear him make those remarks ... He was saying what was good for him. It lacked character.”
Or maybe not so much, according to two other marshals who spoke with Gary Smits about the episode and corroborated Woods’ version of what went down. Standing some ten feet from Woods, whose choice of a fairway metal signaled he would attempt a risky shot through the trees and drew cheers from his fans, Brian Nedrich said he told Woods the coast was clear.
“[The allegations are] not true and definitely unfair to Tiger,” Nedrich, who was stationed on the second hole, told Smits. “That’s because I was the one Tiger heard say that Sergio had hit.”
Marshal Lance Paczkowski, along with a convoy of other attendants, accompanied Woods all day and asked Tiger if he wanted him to move fans away before he played his second shot.
“He said, ‘No...I'm good,’” said Paczkowski, contradicting the earlier report from marshal Gary Anderson, that volunteers never speak to contestants.
“We talk to players all the time if we need to in regards to their needs and crowd control.”
Woods may have had his timeline confused, what with all the usual chaos surrounding his every move and being off in the jungle. Nedrich conceded he could not see Garcia clearly but did see him swing and watched the ball take flight. Fans began moving after that, prompting Paczkowski to attempt to get them to simmer down.
That’s when Nedrich made his now-infamous call.
“I yelled back at Lance, ‘No ... he’s already hit,’” Nedrich said. “Tiger had already taken his club, but we did tell him that Sergio had hit.”
The two marshals took issue with those who called Woods a liar.
“It’s disingenuous to suggest that Tiger is a liar because he got a minor detail wrong,” Nedrich said. “Basically, he told the truth.”
Paczkowski was more adamant.
“Tiger Woods did not lie,” Paczkowski said. “Was there a small mistake in what he remembered? Yes. But I don't think it rises to the level of lying.”
And now back to our regularly scheduled program, starring Tiger Woods as the best golfer on the planet.