Just when you thought the Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia Players Championship drama had reached its apex, another twist is keeping Swing-gate in the news.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated talked to two marshals who essentially called Woods a liar for asserting that he had been given the OK to pull from his bag Saturday on the second hole of the third round. Garcia stated that the distraction it caused led to his bad second shot.
“Nothing was said to us, and we certainly said nothing to him,” John North, the chief marshal for the first three holes, told the site. “I was disappointed to hear him make those remarks. We’re there to help the players and enhance the experience of the fans. He was saying what was good for him. It lacked character.”
However, on Tuesday, two other marshals came to Woods’ defense, saying there had been communication between the world’s No. 1 golfer and marshals and that Woods, who first pulled from his bag and was then told that Garcia had hit, was only mistaken about the sequence of events.
Marshals Brian Nedrich and Lance Paczkowski told the Florida Times-Union that they were both within 10 to 12 yards of Woods at the time of the incident.
“It is not true and definitely unfair to Tiger,” Nedrich told the paper. “That’s because I was the one Tiger heard say that Sergio had hit.”
As for how the event in question went down, here’s how the Times-Union says it happened:
Nedrich, who said he could barely see Garcia, got a glimpse of him swinging, then saw the ball in the air. When fans behind Woods began to stir, Paczkowski, his view of Garcia blocked by bushes, tried to quiet them and said, “the other player (Garcia) hasn’t hit yet.”
“That’s when I yelled back at Lance, ‘No . . . he’s already hit,’ ” Nedrich said. “Tiger had already taken his club, but we did tell him that Sergio had hit.”
Nedrich said he didn’t blame Woods for being mistaken about the sequence of events.
“There was a lot going on, as usual, when Tiger plays,” Nedrich said. “Then, he’s trying to have the concentration he needs to win a tournament. It’s easy to get small details out of whack when things happen so fast. It was an unfortunate incident, and I don’t think either player is to blame.”
So, to recap: Tiger Woods was told that Sergio Garcia had hit, but it was not before Woods pulled from his bag. So he’s more a misrememberer than he is a liar — which probably doesn’t clear up the controversy, but at least somewhat quells the latest attack on his integrity.
“Tiger Woods did not lie,” Paczkowski told the Times-Union. “Was there a small mistake in what he remembered? Yes. But I don’t think it rises to the level of lying.”
Added Nedrich: “It’s disingenuous to suggest that Tiger is a liar because he got a minor detail wrong.”