PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia blamed a roar from the crowd watching Tiger Woods for an errant shot that saw him lose the lead at the Players Championship on Saturday.
Garcia glared in playing partner Woods’s direction after the Spaniard sliced his second shot from the fairway on the par-five second hole well into the trees on the right.
The gallery had erupted during Garcia’s backswing upon seeing world number one Woods reach for his five-wood for a daring escape from a tee shot deep into the trees on the left.
The 2008 champion Garcia, overnight leader by one at 11 under par, went on to bogey the hole, while 2001 winner Woods birdied. The two-shot swing temporarily put Woods into a one-stroke lead over Garcia.
“Well, obviously Tiger was on the left and it was my shot to hit,” Garcia said in an interview with NBC TV during a weather delay that interrupted the third round.
“He moved all the crowd that he needed to move, I waited for that. I wouldn’t say that he didn’t see that I was ready, but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit and right as I was in the top of the backswing, I think he must have pulled like a five-wood or a three-wood and obviously everybody started screaming.
“So that didn’t help very much. But it was unfortunate because - I mean I might have hit it there if nothing happens, you never know - but if I hit a good shot there and maybe make birdie, it gets my day started in a bit of a different way.”
Garcia thought Woods should have waited until the Spaniard played his shot before carrying on with preparing for his own shot.
“There’s really not much you can do,” Garcia said. “I think that I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players.”
Woods said he was innocent of any gamesmanship, adding a dig of his own at the Spaniard.
“The marshals, they told me he already hit, so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot, and then I hear his comments afterwards, and not real surprising that he’s complaining about something,” Woods said after play was halted.
A bogey by Woods at the next hole left them tied, but they were both subsequently overtaken.
Swedish rookie David Lingmerth eagled the par-five 16th and birdied the par-three 17th to break two shots before play was halted due to darkness.
Editing by Gene Cherry/Ian Ransom