Golf is a sport rooted in byzantine rules, and people can be disqualified for the most trivial of reasons.
Sergio Garcia, however, was in no mood for trivial when he got himself disqualified from the Saudi International after Saturday’s third round.
Garcia was disqualified for “serious misconduct,” which is a nice euphemism for “trashed a putting green like a classic rock band’s hotel room.”
And, like a rock band, Garcia didn’t stop at trashing one green. His third round was a hard rock tour in which Garcia, on his way to a 1-over-par 71, laid waste to “multiple greens in frustration.”
And by multiple, The Scotsman reports that means five.
The report said that “it is believed that Garcia damaged five greens during his third circuit, with players in the four groups immediately behind him all complaining to rules officials about the state he’d left them.”
The tour officials then invoked rule 1.2a, the “serious misconduct” rule mentioned before, which the USGA clarified.
The USGA statement on the rule reads, “It declares that players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course.
“It unequivocally states the Committee’s authority to disqualify a player for any serious misconduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game.
“In place of the unclear previous concept of ‘breach of etiquette,’ it uses the more direct and stronger phrases ‘misconduct’ and ‘serious misconduct.'”
Garcia, with the benefit of sober hindsight and after having calmed down, took his medicine with some semblance of grace and dignity.
“I respect the decision of my disqualification,” he said in a statement. “In frustration, I damaged a couple of greens, which I apologized for, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again.”
The European Tour was up against enough of a PR headache for holding a golf tournament in Saudi Arabia in the first place, political and human rights concerns having generated a lot of criticism for the Tour.
To have one of its most high-profile players melt down on the course and wreck the greens is just more bad publicity, even if Garcia has always been something of a hothead according to reputation.
Perhaps that’s why no video footage of the tantrum is making the rounds.
Why can’t I find a video of Sergio Garcia trashing greens?
— Golfing Bohab⛳️??♂️?? (@CaptCaveDave) February 2, 2019
Well, aside from some Twitter comedy:
Breaking: Footage released of Sergio Garcia damaging greens pic.twitter.com/y4Brti0CWP
— Greg Armstrong (@troutlake2005) February 2, 2019
Garcia barely made the cut in this tournament, posting a 69-70 on the par-70 course over the first two rounds to sneak in at 1-under.
Had Garcia not been disqualified, he would be no threat to the leaders of the tournament, as Li Haotong and Dustin Johnson share the three-round lead at 16 under par. Tom Lewis, in third place, is at minus-11.
Where Garcia goes from here is unclear, but the greens on the course should play a little faster on Sunday without Garcia’s bit of impromptu demolition gardening.
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