PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia will not be paired in the same group on Sunday during the final round of the Players Championship.
And for Garcia, he made it clear that is fine for both players.
“I’m not going to lie,” Garcia said after completing the third round in a three-way tie for the lead with Woods and David Lingmerth. “He’s not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.”
Later, Garcia told the Golf Channel: “It’s good for both of us. We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”
For Garcia, it certainly would seem to bode well from a playing standpoint. He has shot a better score just three times in the 20 occasions they have played together on the PGA Tour, and is now 0-7 on weekends.
The bad blood goes back years between the two former Players Championship winners who finished at 205, 11 under par, after the third round was delayed into Sunday morning because of weather problems on Saturday.
Woods will be in the second-to-last group with Casey Wittenberg after a third-round 71 that included 33 putts. Garcia shot 72 after a 65 in the second round. Lingmerth, a PGA Tour rookie from Sweden, had missed the cut in his last five events but lost in a playoff earlier this year at the Humana Challenge. He shot 69.
“It doesn’t matter,” Woods said about not being in the final group. “I’m tied for the lead. I’m right there and I’m playing well. I’m going to go back to the hotel, get some rest and get back at it in the afternoon.”
Garcia became annoyed early in the third round when he hit his second shot well to the right of the par-5 second hole. While standing over the ball, he heard commotion behind him as Woods was surveying his second shot from an area to the left of the fairway where he had to clear a path of spectators.
Woods pulled a 5-wood from his bag at around the time Garcia was over his shot 50 yards away, and that simple act drew cheers from the spectators.
Television replays show Garcia was not in his backswing but standing over the ball when the fans cheered, but he clearly felt that affected his shot.
Replays showed the noise occurred while Garcia was standing over his ball, not in his backswing. And Woods was surrounded by spectators and could not see Garcia; it is also unlikely he would expect cheering simply because he took a club out of his bag.
Woods was unaware that there was an issue until he heard of Garcia’s comments during the weather delay. They did not speak about it, he said.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation between us,” he said.
They returned early Sunday morning to resume the third round, with Garcia missing the green at the par-4 15th to make a bogey, while Woods two-putted for par. Both players birdied the par-5 16th, then Garcia hit the flagstick with his approach at the 17th and made a birdie. Woods parred the hole.
Both players parred the 18th, with Garcia getting up and down from the right of the green.
Woods won the Players in 2001, Garcia in 2008.
Woods, who has won the last five times he led or held a share of the the third-round lead, has converted 52 of 56 times in that position on the PGA Tour, including 21 of his last 22. Woods’ largest 54-hole lead lost was two shots to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship.