If Sergio Garcia was thinking that his spat with Tiger would end this week, he may have to think again. On the eve of the 113th US Open, the storm which hovers above the head of the Spaniard shows every sign of being as noisy and damaging as the one headed for Merion itself.
Indeed, there are those out here saying Garcia may never recover from the moment, at a European Tour dinner, when he said he would serve “fired chicken” to Tiger.
Controversy is not new to Sergio. At the 2002 US Open at Bethpage, he was heckled by the crowd, and it culminated in a sly middle finger from Garcia. But, as he attempts to win his first major championship here, the vocal Philadelphia crowd may get on his back. Practising before his first round, he looked like a man shouldering a heavy burden.
Tiger was asked straight away in his press conference on Tuesday if Sergio had apologised to him yet, and his first word was simple and to the point. “No.” Sergio came in shortly afterwards and said he hadn’t apologised when they shook hands on the practice ground, because “I felt like it wasn’t the appropriate place. I was hoping to see him after his round, but he had gone. The weather obviously didn’t help.”
Throughout his press conference, Sergio look distinctly uncomfortable as he was given a grilling by the American press. A black journalist asked him: “Do you realise that your comments to Tiger extend beyond him, and have a stinging feeling to people who look like me?”
There followed a long silence, in which you could have heard the proverbial pin drop.
“I understand that,” the Spaniard eventually replied. “That’s why I said sorry. I can see I hurt a lot of people. And that doesn’t make me feel good, I can tell you that.”
Tiger has very little respect for Sergio’s career. Sergio seems to have little respect for Tiger as a human being. It is hoped that after 7.44 a.m. tomorrow, when Sergio starts his first round alongside Stewart Cink and Padraig Harrington, that all will be forgotten; but many think this is a pipe dream.