'We are all human and we all make mistakes,' admits contrite Garcia
Sergio Garcia promised to learn from his mistakes after he was disqualified from the inaugural Saudi International for “grave misconduct” — deliberately damaging five greens during the third round.
The 2017 Masters champion (39), who was clearly no fan of the ‘Paspalum Dynasty’ putting surfaces at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, took out his frustration on the golf course, just 24 hours after letting fly with a torrent of expletives as he angrily smashed his club into a bunker four times during round two.
“What happened this week is not something I am proud of,” Garcia told the Spanish news agency EFE shortly after his disqualification.
“We are all human, and we all make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them. The mistake is not learning from mistakes.”
His antics in round three included leaving scuff marks and a divot on five greens as he played alongside the young Italian Renato Paratore, whose caddie felt Garcia’s tantrum was excessively prolonged.
According to EFE, Paratore’s Spanish caddie Javier Erviti said: “We are used to shows of character because we are Latinos, but we had the impression this tantrum was a bit over the top.”
Compatriot Jorge Campillo and his caddie Borja Simo, who were two groups behind Garcia and Paratore, called rules officials when they spotted deliberate damage to several greens.
“We knew it could affect us and the groups behind us,” Simo told EFE.
Campillo added: “It could happen once to any of us but several times is not normal.”
At the end of the round, tournament director David Phillips was waiting for Garcia, armed with an electronic tablet and showed him the photos.
Following his disqualification under Rule 1.2a for committing serious misconduct, Garcia issued a statement that said: “I respect the decision of my disqualification. In frustration, I damaged a couple of greens, which I apologise for, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again.”
World number 28 Garcia is scheduled to join the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in the PGA Tour’s star-studded Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles next week.
The American circuit moves from Arizona, where Rickie Fowler claimed the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday, to the Monterey Peninsula this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Graeme McDowell joins sponsor’s invitee Shane Lowry in the field, but after missing his seventh cut in a row in Phoenix and his eighth in nine starts this season, West Waterford’s Seamus Power takes a week off to regroup.
The European Tour moves on to Australia for two weeks with Michael Hoey clinching the final berth in this week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open in Melbourne.
The five-time European Tour winner joins Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan and Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell, who earned an invitation for winning the Australian Amateur Championship.
The event features a concurrent women’s event co-sanctioned by the LPGA Tour with men and women receiving equal prize money from the A$3 million (€2.62m) purse.
Leona Maguire has received a sponsor’s invitation to join Stephanie Meadow at 13th Beach Golf Club and plans to remain in Australia to play two Ladies European Tour events before returning to the US to concentrate on the Symetra Tour.