2013 THE PLAYERS Championship: Rivalry and Failure

May 13, 2013 4 Comments
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia

Photos By: Keith Allison

Tiger Woods’ victory of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass yesterday showcased how the world’s #1 golfer has regained much of his former prowess on the golf course. Yet for everything that Tiger did on the course, the 2013 edition of The Players also showed what is missing in the sport and reminded us why Sergio Garcia has and never will attain the status of one of the world’s great golfers.

The tournament started with hyped mundanity like any other week on PGA Tour only to come to life on Saturday with the pairing of Woods and Garcia for the third round of play.

Each player’s palatable dislike of the other was brilliantly on display with NBC’s commentary providing additional substance to what high definition televisions were already telling the viewers at home.  Critical mass was achieved when Woods allegedly interrupting the backswing of Garcia’s approach shot on the 2nd hole, leading to an accusation like complaint by Garcia after the stoppage of play to which Woods responded to with, “Not real surprising he’s complaining about something.”

Sergio’s retort…”That’s fine. At least I’m true to myself.” Yes, you are Sergio, but we’ll get to that later.

The jabs would continue, bringing back to life something that is sorely missing on the PGA Tour these days…a spiteful disdain between players to entertain us.

Few things create better theater than watching two foes compete side by side in the most personal of contests that is professional golf.   All too often nowadays the media and fans see the chummy side of a sport where it appears that everyone is happy to be taking home a healthy pay check for simply making the cut and although a golfer might be disappointed he failed to win a tournament, he’s usually happy for those who did.  Isn’t that nice.

I fully acknowledge that golf is supposed to be a gentleman’s sport, but how many of you find all your coworkers swell and upstanding individuals who you love being around? For once I’d love to hear a tour player emphatically state during a television interview the following: “Well, I would have won had it not been for that lucky bastard’s magical kick off a spectator back into the fairway on 12 and his incessant flatulence on the greens that made it difficult to breath.”

Are CSPAN & politician's more entertaining and honest than PGA Tour players? Photo By: USDAgov

Are CSPAN & politician’s more entertaining and honest than PGA Tour players? Photo By: USDAgov

All the sport’s chumminess contributes to boring the audience and frankly it makes me want to watch CSPAN.  At least the members of that elitist club have no qualms about making spiteful comments towards one another and know how to create somewhat entertaining drama between opposing forces.

The fact is Tiger and Sergio’s spat reminded us all that these two men hate each other and dislike creates rivalry.  It’s the reason that with both players in contention to win on Sunday the final round suddenly became must watch television.

While the drama from the rivalry was present and the hype from NBC’s commentators continually in play, the final 18 holes were more about providing further confirmation that attempts by Garcia to attain the level of greatness remain futile.

Perhaps Sergio’s career is best described as a bad Soap Opera. You can go years without watching, but randomly tune in and know precisely what is happening and how the tragedy will unfold.  In Sergio’s case you knew, just as Tiger said, that at some point during the tournament the Spaniard would be complaining about some injustice and later choking at the moment of truth.

The latter is probably the reason Woods could careless that Garcia’s birdie on the 16th hole had placed both golfers in a tie for the lead. Tiger was sitting safely on the 17th’s island green, while Sergio still had the hole to play.  Just like Don Johnson’s character in Tin Cup, Woods knew at some point Garcia was destine for a Roy McAvoy blow up.  As if on cue, Sergio obliged us all by hitting two straight balls in the water on 17, effectively ending the Spanish threat.

The sad truth is that Garcia’s career continues to be defined by coming up short against the best players and/or in the biggest tournaments.

Of course we’ll continue to soak up any tidbit of his ridiculous rivalry with Tiger, one that is growing to resemble that of an older and younger brother, because it’s the only drama of its kind the PGA Tour is currently feeding us.  However, until Sergio is able to overcome the highest obstacles in golf by winning a major he will remain simply a charismatic but largely irrelevant player.

Then again since Tiger hasn’t won a major in nearly five years perhaps the same could be said of him.  After all Woods has always stated that the only thing that matters is victories in majors.

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4 Responses to “2013 THE PLAYERS Championship: Rivalry and Failure”

  1. Sportschump says:

    Great stuff, Jedly.

    I’ll have my thoughts up on this shortly but you beat me to the punch.

    I think the rivalry is good for the game. Usually, however, when someone goes up against Tiger, they lose.

    How funny is it though that everyone in this instance is siding with Tiger who may have very well been in the wrong?

  2. Joseph Nardone says:

    Good stuff, Jed. I always like when golf pairings end up with two guys who are polarizing. For me at least, it helps me pick someone to root for in a sport I otherwise don’t really cheer on an individual player. I mean, I once had John Daly….a long, long time ago.

    • Jed Gray says:

      I know what you mean. If only we could get Daly back to his prime form…at least for a few tournaments.

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