Sergio Garcia may face a hostile reception from Santa-hating Philly fans at Merion

Lucas Dawson

Sergio Garcia reveled in the reaction he received from fans at a recent Euro Tour event, but the golfer formerly known as El Nino better wear ear muffs to block out the boos and catcalls he can expect from the hometown crowd at next week’s U.S. Open.

Sergio Garcia rode the wave of good tidings from British fans to a T19 finish at the recent BMW PGA Championship in England -- just days after he stepped in it with his racist “fried chicken” comment directed at Tiger Woods. The 33-year-old Spaniard who’s been embroiled in a one-sided rivalry with the world No. 1 for 14 years can expect not quite so friendly a reception at next week’s U.S. Open, where Philadelphia fans renowned for jeering their own World Series hero will be in full voice at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore.

"It's getting better every day, there's no doubt everybody has made it so much easier for me," Garcia told reporters after closing at 5-under in the tour's flagship event, according to Reuters. "The crowds here, I don't have words to explain what I feel towards them. They have been amazing, every single tee, every single green, cheering me on, and I can never pay them back."

Hitch up your Under Armour, Sergio, ‘cause those won’t be air kisses you’ll be fielding in the City of Brotherly Love come next Thursday.

“A tough one, a very long, tough week,” ESPN analyst Paul Azinger said Thursday about what Garcia can expect from the “bleacher creatures, bottle-throwers, couch-torchers, sexual harassers, [and] projectile vomiters” otherwise known to GQ readers as Philadelphia sports fans.

While it will be difficult for Garcia to duck and cover, Azinger offered some advice for the guy who reignited his years-long feud with Woods during The Players Championship and tossed a Molotov cocktail into the mix 10 days later during a gala European Tour affair.

“If he tries to be smart about his approach to this,” Azinger said during a conference call with reporters, “he talks to the media right at the very beginning, he regrets what he said, and he just moves on and focuses on golf and...not allow [himself] to get crushed over it.”

Andy North, a two-time U.S. Open winner, observed that whatever Garcia does to keep the the locals at bay probably won’t be enough.

“This is a city that boos Santa Claus,” North reasoned, “so it will be interesting.”

Now, if Sergio were to sustain a career-threatening injury, those boos could well turn to cheers from what GQ termed “the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system.”

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