2013-06-12 / Sports

Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Tiger and Sergio

The U. S. Open, the second of the four major golf tournaments, is set for Merion Golf Club just outside of Philadelphia this week. The Merion course plays under 7000 yards and par is 70. That is exceedingly short by today’s standards, an element that will add interest for viewers. In a typical U.S. Open setup the fairways will be very narrow and the rough very long. That will be the equalizer for the best players in the world, as they will be relegated to using fairway woods and irons from the tees. Even so, birdies will be abundant, because those that are playing from the fairways will often have scoring clubs in hand.

The condition of the course is a serious topic after several inches of rain fell on the course since last Friday, including some torrential rain Monday from the system that moved up the east coast. The forecast for the rest of the week includes plenty of opportunities for rain. In short, the course has been saturated and there is no reason to think it will be anything but soggy for the championship. Any more significant rainfall will increase the chance that play will continue past Sunday.

Aside from the weather that kept most of the field from getting in any significant practice on Monday came the news that Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods shook hands. If you don’t know why that is news, here is the gist of it.

In the Player’s Championship last month Woods and Garcia were in the same pairing. Garcia was playing a shot while Woods, some 30 yards away, was going through his process to play his shot. Part of that process is selecting a club and pulling it out of the bag. Woods apparently pulled the club while Garcia was in his process, an action that obviously disturbed the Spaniard as he cast a cold stare in Woods’ direction.

Watching on TV a viewer would be unaware of exactly what would have been the source of Garcia’s distraction. Even the announcers weren’t sure, though the on course announcer had a handle on it. After the round, Garcia was asked about the incident and he wasted no time throwing Woods under the bus.

"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.''

Obviously there is some bad blood there that goes way back. Sergio is known for speaking before thinking. He’s drawn fire for blaming bad luck for his lack of wins, criticizing Augusta National for the speed of the greens and a few other notable comments that we don’t have time for.

Anyway, a couple weeks after the Player’s, Garcia was asked about the feud. The Spaniard was on stage at the European Tour's gala players' awards dinner, where he was questioned by the Golf Channel's Steve Sands. Garcia, was asked in jest if he would have the American round for dinner one night during the upcoming US Open. "We will have him round every night," Garcia said. "We will serve fried chicken."

That comment was heard around the world and instantly labeled Garcia as a racist. It was a failed attempt at humor that just doesn’t work in the political correct world in which we live. Woods could have let Garcia off the hook by accepting a public apology attempt by Garcia, but he didn’t. Instead, Woods took to Twitter to say, "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate."

So, on Monday Garcia approached Woods during the practice round. They spoke briefly and shook hands. Woods says it’s time to move on, indicating he has no desire to discuss the conversation. Perhaps Garcia will speak about it; I mean he’s rarely at a loss for words.

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