Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia took their long-simmering squabble to new heights in 2013, thanks to the "he dissed me" fracas that broke out between the two at The Players Championship and the full-fledged firestorm, complete with racist remarks and the requisite mea culpas, that erupted soon thereafter.
Veteran golf watchers know that Tiger v. Sergio kicked off years ago (a full timeline of their contretemps), with El Nino scissor-kicking and trash-talking his way onto Woods’ enemy list, and the once-and-future No. 1 bludgeoning "Tweety Bird" and falling to his nemesis in the 2006 Ryder Cup.
With Woods’ Hall of Fame career leaving Garcia a jealous also-ran, the would-be rivalry frittered out -- until the two met in an exceedingly unfriendly third round at TPC Sawgrass in May.
The antics are by now embedded in Tiger/Sergio lore: Woods purportedly pulls a club as Garcia prepares to hit a shot, inciting Sergio to blame Tiger for his subsequent mishit; Garcia whines about his fate to anyone who will listen, Tiger swats him away as marshals offer differing accounts about whether Woods lied about what really went down; Tiger goes on to win his 78th PGA Tour event as Sergio implodes.
You'd expect that after Garcia spoke up and took Woods head-on with the two exchanging blows through the press, the temperamental Spaniard would wilt away and play himself out of golf's "fifth major." But it was Garcia, not Woods, who played in the final group on Sunday and had a golden chance to pick up one of the biggest wins of his career.
That is, of course, until he imploded in spectacular and memorable fashion, finding the water three times in the final two holes. The gag started at the TPC Sawgrass' famed island 17th green, when Garcia put his first tee shot well short in the in drink. He still had a theoretical shot to bogey-birdie and maybe match Tiger, but instead of hitting from the drop zone, he re-hit from the tee and was trolled by one of Pete Dye's classic walls buttressing the island target:
The crowd reacted with delight and roared on both occasions. Sergio would give them a little more to cheer on the very next hole, when he badly pulled one down the right side into the large lake at the 18th.
Tiger, on the other hand, had no such trouble striping it down the middle on the 18th (GIF via Adam Sarson):
He locked up his fourth win of the year on a course where he had historically struggled.
And that back-and-forth in Florida that weekend was just the undercard to the actual heavyweight bout.
Some 10 days after The Incident at The Players, Garcia, during a European Tour awards dinner, answers a lame query about dining with Woods with an ignorant and offensive attempt at a quip that involves fried chicken.
The usual apology follows, but Woods refuses the figurative makeup handshake.
The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate...— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 22, 2013
I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 22, 2013
The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 22, 2013
As with all-things Tiger, everyone from Jack Nicklaus (who terms the Woods-Garcia tiff "stupid") to Fuzzy Zoeller (who claims his original Tiger-KFC crack was "a joke gone bad") weighs in.
Circle the date and set the DVR: only five months, give or take, until the Tiger-Sergio TPC reunion, slated for May 8-May 11 at Sawgrass.