By Paul Mahoney at Augusta
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia couldn’t have been less chatty had they been sitting in opposite corners of a library. These two have history. They don’t like each other and don’t mind telling everyone either.
And so it was that their pairing in the third round of the Masters was all the buzz at Augusta. Would the new huggy Woods embrace Garcia or would they exchange cold shoulders? Garcia approached Woods on the 1st tee and a handshake took place but not a word was spoken.
But they’ve had words in the past. There was the “fried chicken” joke that Garcia cracked during last year’s BMW PGA Championship. There was the complaint that Woods had put him off during a shot at the 2013 Players Championship.
And there’s more. Woods battered Garcia in the final round of the 2006 Open at Hoylake. The Spaniard was dressed all in yellow. Woods texted friends: “I just bludgeoned Tweety-Pie.”
Garcia last year was not shy in saying: “At least I’m true to myself. I know what I’m doing, and he can do whatever he wants. I’m not going to lie, he’s not my favourite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.”
So ahead of their third round pairing, Garcia bizarrely took to social media to make public statements that were directly sent to Woods. “It was gonna happen at some point sooner or later! Paired with Tiger Woods,” Garcia tweeted. “But don’t you worry guys, I’m sure we’ll both be fine. Tiger Woods and I might not be best friends but we do respect each other and that respect will stay the same today! Enjoy some good golf,” he tweeted. All rather strange. Wonder if Tiger was laughing.
Afterwards, Garcia was immediately back on social media: “Nice round of golf with @TigerWoods he played nicely, I was ok.I think we both proved what I said yesterday! Sorry to disappoint the haters!”
He was close to tears at the end of the day after a four-under-par 68 took him to six under for the tournament. Garcia shot one-under to be three-under. “I had my chances to make this a really special round today,” Woods said. “Man, I had it going there for a little bit. The score realistically should have been 6 or 7-under. I made a stupidly good birdie on 13,” Woods said. The fist pump was back. “And a stupidly bad bogey on 14.”
The hangdog look returned. Woods all but conceded victory. “It’s in Jordan’s hands now,” he said.
Rory McIlroy, too, knew he was too far back despite a four under par 68 to be six under. “I’m going to need something basically around 61, 62 to have a real chance,” McIlroy said. “I’m not sure that’s going to happen but we’ll see.”
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