COMMENTARY | Pulling a club from a golf bag should be a simple act. The story behind Tiger Woods' club pulling on the second hole of the third round at The Players Championship, however, has gotten even more complicated.
What began as a he-said-he-said situation between Woods and Day 3 playing partner Sergio Garcia then expanded to include the testimony of a pair of volunteer marshals, delivering their view of the situation to Sports Illustrated.
Tuesday marked another twist in the story, as a separate marshal duo spoke with the Florida Times-Union, offering a different perspective.
First, to play catch-up for those not already immersed in this soap opera: Woods and Garcia hit their tee shots to the par-5 second on Saturday. Garcia found the fairway. Woods found the, well, woods and pine straw.
After some delay, Garcia decided to play first, pulling a fairway wood. Just before Garcia struck his shot, the sound of light applause emanated from where Woods was. The Spaniard's shot flared way right, leading to a bogey. Garcia claimed Woods pulled his fairway wood to attempt a risky hook shot through the trees as he was preparing to hit.
Woods absolved himself, saying volunteer marshals told him Garcia had hit.
"The marshals, they told me he already hit, so I pulled a club and was getting ready to play my shot, and then I hear his comments afterward and it's not real surprising that he's complaining about something," Woods said.
The marshals quoted in the Sports Illustrated story said mum was the Woods word, making the world No. 1 seem like he lied. Note that Woods said nothing about asking marshals for that information. Video footage showed dubious timing on Woods' part, but that he also wasn't looking Garcia's way for his cue like he probably should have.
Woods' version, however, has been somewhat corroborated by Brian Nedrich and Lance Paczkowski.
Nedrich told the Times-Union he was the one who green-lighted Woods, calling off Paczkowski, who was about to hush the crowd to give Garcia the courtesy silence to hit his shot.
"That's when I yelled back at Lance, 'No ... he's already hit,' " Nedrich said, according to the report. "Tiger had already taken his club, but we did tell him that Sergio had hit."
So, it's a matter of timing. Woods was told Garcia had hit, but Tiger had already pulled his club. Obviously Woods was not going to hit at the same time as his playing partner.
Now that six different people have offered their version of events, maybe it's best to rely on the video footage. Looking at side-by-side camera footage of the pair run at the same time, it's clear that Woods does not look toward Garcia before pulling his club. Meanwhile, Garcia is ready to swing as fans begin to clap. Woods' caddie Joe Lacava raises his hand, seeming to look to quiet the crowd gathered around his man.
In the end, it seems Woods may have gotten the order of events wrong in recounting the situation to the media after play closed on Saturday. Both marshals in the Times-Union piece do not consider that lying.
"Tiger Woods did not lie," Paczkowski said. "Was there a small mistake in what he remembered? Yes. But I don't think it rises to the level of lying."
Perhaps it was a Roger Clemens moment of "misremembering" the finer details, but Woods was nowhere near Garcia when the Spaniard plunked two in the water at the par-3 17th in the final round. Those were the strokes that mattered most anyhow.
Ryan Ballengee is a Washington, D.C.-based golf writer. His work has appeared on multiple digital outlets, including NBC Sports and Golf Channel. Follow him on Twitter @RyanBallengee.
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