The sport of golf is unique in it’s manner of self-policing. For the most part, unless a clear rules violation has occurred, players are left to a sort of honor system that is unparalleled in any other sport.
Of course, rarely will you see anybody make a decision that could actively cost them in competition, but that’s exactly what Sergio Garcia did on Friday at the Accenture Match Play.
Garcia’s opponent, Rickie Fowler, had been on fire through the first two days of the tournament, taking out Ian Poulter and Jimmy Walker on back-to-back days. But Garcia had Fowler on the ropes early, two up through six holes, but what happened on the seventh was unheard of.
Garcia felt as though he took too long to drop his ball on the sixth hole because he was swarmed by bees, and felt that the best way to make amends for keeping Fowler waiting was to offer a halve on the seventh, even though Fowler likely needed to sink an 18-footer for par to earn it. Fowler went on to win the match, one up, leading many to wonder if Garcia made a poor decision to halve a hole that could have earned him the match.
While much of Garcia’s 2013 season was spent in an ugly spat with Tiger Woods, he showed an incredible amount of maturity and dignity after the surprising defeat.
“I had some bad experiences with bees as a youngster,” Garcia told USA TODAY. “I felt guilty that my drop on 6 took so long. I felt like if I would have been in his position I would have been uncomfortable waiting so long to hit my birdie putt. So I just thought I had to do something. I have to do something to make sure that I feel good with myself. At least I can leave here feeling good, even though that I lost. And that’s all there is to it.
“It was the best thing to do for the game – and me. And he deserves to go through.”
Granted, even after halving the seventh, Garcia wont he eighth to go three up and just flat out got beat by Fowler down the stretch. But over the years we’ve seen plenty of a more emotional Garcia – perhaps even petulant at times – but this was the way a true professional should handle himself.
Love him or hate him, you have to respect this more mature version of Sergio Garcia.