National Columnist

Tiger screwed up, so apologize to Sergio and squash this beef

The beef between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia continues to ratchet ever higher because of one inarguable, impossible fact: Tiger owes Sergio an apology.

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Sergio knows it. Tiger might even know it, but that's irrelevant because being Tiger means never having to say you're sorry. But Sergio knows he's owed an apology here -- knows that Tiger Woods set this whole thing in motion with a breach of etiquette, which, in the pampered world of golf, is sort of a big deal -- and until Sergio gets one, he's going to keep escalating this beef.

Why does Tiger owe Sergio an apology? You know why. He made the mistake -- and it was an honest mistake; he got lost in the moment and forgot himself for a few seconds -- of walking up to his ball in a bad spot with a big club at the exact moment that Sergio was in the fairway, hitting his shot.

Most golfers can do what Tiger did, but no other golfer is Tiger. When his ball is sitting on pine needles on the wrong side of the cart path, blocked by trees, and he walks toward it with one of the biggest clubs in his bag, well, you know what's going to happen. People around Tiger -- and there are always a lot of people around Tiger -- are going to start clapping and screaming.

Meanwhile, Sergio's in the fairway. Swinging his club.

You see the problem here? Don't get distracted by the "Sergio's a whiny jerk" or "golfers are wimps" argument. That's not the point here, and you know it. The point is, golf has rules of etiquette, and one of the most important rules is to do nothing that would distract your playing partner in the middle of a shot.

And Tiger knows it.

But he did it -- accidentally, unintentionally, unthinkingly, but he did it -- and he owes Sergio an apology.

Good luck with that, Sergio.

May the beef continue.

UPDATE: Tiger says a course marshal told him Garcia already had hit; that's why he pulled out his club when he did. On the one hand, that would explain such a breach of etiquette. On the other hand ... the marshal was wrong. And Sergio got screwed. Which brings me back to the headline of this post.

 
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