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Column: Garcia can’t stop apologizing to Tiger
Question of the Day
ARDMORE, PA. (AP) - A handshake on the driving range. A handwritten note left quietly in his locker.
There’s still time, of course, since the two erstwhile rivals don’t tee off until Thursday in the U.S. Open at muddy Merion Golf Club. On second thought, maybe a nice bouquet of flowers tucked inside one of those wicker baskets they use for flags here might work better.
C’mon. What’s a fellow got to do to prove he’s sorry?
“You know, it’s a big week and I understand that it’s difficult to meet up and stuff,” Garcia said.
Or maybe he should just forget the whole thing and do what Woods himself said he had done _ consider the matter closed.
Whether Woods actually meant that will be debated in the locker room as much as what Garcia meant last month when he said he would have Woods over for dinner during the Open and serve him fried chicken every night.
That’s probably why the Spaniard looked like someone had stolen his favorite putter when he met with the media Tuesday , knowing that most of the questions would have nothing to do with historic Merion or Garcia’s chances of finally winning a major in this Open.
He talked about moving forward and being forgiven. Said he made dumb mistakes but was trying to learn from them. Talked even more about moving forward and being forgiven.
If it weren’t for somebody asking about Ben Hogan and the great 1-iron he hit to the 18th green here at the 1950 U.S. Open, he’d still be talking about moving forward and being forgiven.
“I wish I could go back in time and take back what I said, but unfortunately, I said it,” Garcia said. “You know, the only thing I can do is show you my respect from here moving forward.”
On a day when spectators sloshed through the mud to watch practice rounds and players fretted about mud balls deciding this Open, the lingering effects of the Woods-Garcia dustup did do one thing. It drew some of the spotlight from the decision by the U.S. Golf Association to return the Open to Merion, an old and short course that could be easy pickings for the best players in the world.
Heavy rains over the last few days have softened the course so much that it will change how it plays, and not for the better. The course where Bobby Jones completed his Grand Slam in 1930 and Hogan won 20 years later had to play fast to challenge today’s players, who will now be able to take dead aim at the quaint basket-pins and make lots of birdies.
It’s also the same course where Lee Trevino threw a rubber snake at Jack Nicklaus before their 1971 playoff, so there is some history of player confrontations, even if that one was in jest.
Asked Tuesday what happened to the snake, Trevino said:
“It died. It’s been 42 years ago. No snakes live 42 years.”
Garcia wants desperately for this to die, too, before his sponsors desert him and his game does the same. This had shaped up as a promising year for Garcia to rebound from several years of poor play until he imploded while battling Woods for the title at The Players Championship a month ago.
“He called me a whiner. That’s probably right,” Garcia said then. “It’s also probably the first thing he’s told you guys that’s true in 15 years.”
It was all good stuff, if not good fun. But then Garcia crossed the line with a comment in London about fried chicken that reminded everyone that golf still struggles with issues of race and class.
He’s still at it, getting as far as a handshake on the range Monday before deciding it wasn’t the proper place to make amends. He followed with a note left in Woods‘ locker Tuesday, and repeated his mea culpa for the better part of a half hour before the media.
He’s not going to win this Open and may never win an Open.
For now, though, he’s the undisputed clubhouse leader in attempted apologies.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
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