Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia rift overshadows leader David Lingmerth's play at The Players Championship.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods was surrounded by fans curious to see how he was going to escape from the trees on the second hole at The Players Championship. Cheers erupted when he pulled out a 5-wood, a risky shot off the pine straw through about a 15-foot gap of pines.
Woods said he didn’t hear Sergio Garcia hit his shot from the fairway. He didn’t see Garcia stare in his direction. But the world’s No. 1 player heard Garcia on television during a storm delay.
Garcia said the burst of cheers disrupted his swing, and suggested Woods was the instigator by thinking only of himself.
“Not real surprising that he’s complaining about something,” Woods said.
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Told of Woods’ comments, Garcia said, “That’s fine. At least I’m true to myself. I know what I’m doing, and he can do whatever he wants.”
Garcia recalled he heard the crowd react “right as I was in the top of the backswing” and added, “So that didn’t help very much.”
Woods said Garcia didn’t have his facts straight.
“The marshals, they told me he already hit, so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot,” Woods said.
Asked if they talked over the incident when play resumed, Woods replied, “We didn’t do a lot of talking.”
Garcia and Woods were known to have a rather frosty relationship before Saturday’s disagreement.
Garcia wound up making a bogey on the second hole to lose the one-shot lead he had at the start of the third round. Meanwhile, Woods pulled off his shot, and then blasted out of a bunker to about 10 feet and made a birdie to lead.
Garcia didn’t back away from his comments on TV. While discussing players who attract big crowds, he said, “I think sometimes you have to be a bit more careful.”
Storms caused a delay of nearly two hours and prevented eight players from finishing the third round at TPC Sawgrass.
Swedish rookie David Lingmerth led at 12-under par through 17 holes of the third round. He made an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th hole and a 10-foot birdie on the island-green 17th.
Woods and Garcia were at 10 under through 14 holes and Henrik Stenson was at 10 under through 16 holes. Each of the players at 10 under has won The Players.
“I’m aware of where they’re at,” Lingmerth said. “I try not to look at the leaderboard when I’m out there. I’m just trying to do my thing.
“But having those guys behind me, I know they’re going to try to hunt me down, of course. But I’m just going to try to forget about all that and just try to do my thing.”
Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor shot his second consecutive 68 and was tied for 18th place at 5 under.