Sergio Garcia has done his best to change the narrative in the months following his bunker tantrum and his purposeful damaging of the greens at the Saudi International in February. He's shaken hands, he's kissed babies, he's helped with marriage proposals. You name it, he's tried it all. But for all those steps forward, it appears he's taken one giant step back in his quarterfinal match against Matt Kuchar on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Match Play.
At the par-3 seventh hole, trailing Kuchar 1 down, Garcia had a seven-foot par putt left to win the hole after Kuchar was in for bogey. Garcia didn't make a great stroke, and his putt missed on the left side, coming to rest an inch (maybe even less) from the cup. We've seen guys not give short putts on Saturday due to the windy conditions, understandable given the fact that when there is still meat left on the bone, the wind can play a huge factor. But Sergio's second putt is literally less than an inch from the cup. In any match at any level of golf this putt is "good." The problem is Garcia went up and quick-raked it, and it lipped out:
As you can hear the rules official explain, Kuchar never had the chance to concede the putt, even though it was clearly good. Had Garcia just stood there and waited, Kuchar would have told him to pick it up and the hole would be halved. But because Garcia didn't give him that chance and he missed the putt, by rule that stroke still counts, and Kuchar can't retroactively give him the putt, so he won the hole. Doesn't get much more brutal than that for Garcia.
The situation is clearly having a negative effect on Garcia, who missed another par putt at the eighth hole, this time for a halve, and then took a full swing at his ball with the putter. Fortunately he missed it, and we hope he wasn't actually trying to strike it:
Garcia is understandably hot, and NBC cameras even captured footage of he and Kuchar having a tense back and forth in the 10th fairway. At the ninth, Garcia hit one miles to the right, eventually losing the hole to go 3 down. Garcia did just win the 10th hole to get it back to 2 down, and afterwards had a discussion with Kuchar's caddie John Wood as they walked off the green. According to Jim "Bones" Mackay, who is out following the group, the environment is a heated one, to say the least. Bones actually caught up with Garcia a few holes later, and Garcia took the blame:
"The bottom line in this entire situation is I made the big mistake."