It’s fair to say Sergio Garcia hasn’t exactly brought a lot of good publicity on himself over the years. It looks like he is trying to redeem himself.
Despite his off-course bubbly, friendly nature, Sergio Garcia has let himself down on and off the golf course. Aside from his golf game in important major moments, Garcia has brought on himself a lot of ill-feelings from golf fans in a string of controversial incidents including spitting in a cup, withdrawing from tournaments, angry outbursts and most recently, the ugly incident with Tiger Woods.
Garcia has gone some way to rectifying the situation with a remarkable display of sportsmanship in his third round match against Rickie Fowler at the WGC Accenture Match Play.
On the sixth hole with Garcia leading by two holes, he was forced to take a drop away from bees just off the green. Fowler was forced to wait some time over his birdie putt – although he later said it didn’t bother him at all.
Feeling guilty about making Fowler wait so long over his putt, Garcia suggested they both settle for a halve on the next hole; Fowler was facing an 18-foot par putt, while Garcia just had six feet for his par.
Fowler looked bemused and assumed Garcia was joking before they both picked up their balls and went to the next hole.
Garcia then birdied the next hole to move three holes in front of Fowler, but the American ultimately prevailed thanks to five birdies in his closing ten holes and won the match 1up.
“This is a gentleman’s game and should be kept that way,” Garcia said about the incident after the round.
“That’s the way I was brought up, with my Dad. I felt guilty the drop at 6 took too much time. If I was in his position, I would not have enjoyed waiting. So the only thing I could do on 7 was make myself feel better and not feel guilty. … At least I can leave here feeling good even though I lost.”
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say Garcia has been misunderstood – because these previous poor actions must be part of his character – I’ve always felt the game was eating away at Garcia and taking away his love for it. At the 2010 Australian Masters, Garcia was a breath of fresh air around the media centre , happily chatting to anyone and signing autographs to kids across the golf course.
On the back of some very good recent results, here’s hoping Garcia has turned the corner. He brings a lot to the game and a smiling, successful Garcia would be good for everyone.