It's the story that will not die, and a new wrinkle has emerged in what has become a big battle between what Tiger Woods said during the third round of the Players Championship and what really happened.
On Saturday at TPC Sawgrass, Tiger was paired with Sergio Garcia and on the second hole, a par-5, Garcia was going for the green in two while Woods was left in the trees trying to figure out his best chance of getting his ball back in play.
Garcia was about to hit his shot when Woods pulled a club out of his bag, a fairway wood, and the crowd erupted just as Sergio was swinging. During a weather delay, Garcia blamed the bad shot and eventual bogey on the hole on Tiger, saying he pulled the club knowing that Garcia had yet to hit.
"I wouldn't say (Tiger) didn't see that I was ready, but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit. Right as I was on top of the backswing, he pulled a 5-wood or 3-wood out of the rough and, obviously, everybody started screaming, so that didn't help very much."
Woods defended himself after the round by saying, "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."
On Monday, Sports Illustrated talked to the head marshal at the Players Championship, John North, who refuted the claim by Tiger that any marshal was asked about Sergio's golf shot before he hit it.
“Nothing was said to us and we certainly said nothing to him,” North said. “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.”
That might have come from the boss, but it wasn't the end of what marshals on the grounds had to say.
Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union talked to two other marshals that were assigned to the Tiger-Sergio group and they said Woods did get info on Sergio's golf shot, just that the order of things seemed mixed up.
“It is not true and definitely unfair to Tiger,” said Brian Nedrich, who was a marshal at the second hole. “That’s because I was the one Tiger heard say that Sergio had hit.”
The Times-Union article goes on to say that Nedrich, and marshal Lance Paczkowski, told Tiger that Sergio had hit so there was definitely communication between the marshals and Tiger at the time of the shot.
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.”
The battle between what was said and what wasn't said is sure to continue at this point considering marshals are backing Tiger but it's definitely interesting to hear this many people come forward on what seemed to be such an innocent act at the time.
If nothing else, we can simply hope that at some point this year we get Tiger vs. Sergio, 2.0, and it is just a fraction as exciting at the first 2013 battle the two had.