Sergio Garcia a paragon of sportsmanship at Accenture Match Play Championship – New York Daily News




PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. − Maybe Sergio Garcia is trying to win golf’s version of the Lady Bing. The impassioned Spaniard, who spent part of last year apologizing to Tiger Woods for that “fried chicken” joke, turned into a paragon of sportsmanship at last week’s Accenture Match Play Championship.

Garcia offered the “good-good” option to Rickie Fowler, who had 18 feet for par to Garcia’s seven, halving a hole he probably would have won. Fowler went on to win the match in extra holes but Garcia, who thought he had taken too much time trying to sort out an issue with a wasp nest on the previous hole, insisted he did the right thing.

He comes to this week’s Honda Classic at PGA National having reversed the PR spin, although Woods still might not be inviting him over to his home in Jupiter.

“I don’t care if some people think it was wrong or right. For me it was the right thing to do,” Garcia said at his Tuesday press conference, where he talked about being a role model. “If not, I would have been thinking about it throughout the whole match and probably throughout the whole week, and it’s what I felt it was right to do.

“Like I said there, this is the way my dad taught me to play the game of golf,” he said, referring to his father (and coach) Victor. “I think that winning is important, but playing the game the right way, it’s even more important for me. I tried to beat Rickie as hard as I could, and unfortunately he just played awesome the last 10 holes. I feel good about what I did because it’s what I felt it was right to do, and that’s pretty much the only guy I need to please on that aspect.”

Let it be said that Garcia’s on-course behavior hasn’t always gone over well, particularly in Ryder Cup play, but he’s always been someone whose emotions have governed his play – his breakup with Greg Norman’s daughter Morgan-Leigh in 2009 being the prime example. And so far this season, things are looking better than they have in quite some time, with a No. 2 ranking behind Thomas Bjorn on the European Tour.

Garcia won his last event of 2013, the Thailand Golf Championship in December, and opened 2014 with a victory at the Qatar Masters. His girlfriend, Katharina Boehm, was on his bag in Thailand and the first to offer a congratulatory hug in Qatar.

“When things off the golf course are on good terms it is a little easier to concentrate when you don’t have too many things in your head,” Garcia said at the time. “I am very fortunate with Kathy and with my family and all those around me, so it’s great to be playing well and to be in this winning situation with the goal now to keep improving.

“I still feel like I can do better and that is the goal.”

That was also the theme here Tuesday.

“Yeah, it feels good,” he said. “I felt like I started the year nicely, played quite well last week, too, and you know, just like I said before, just hoping to keep building on that, building on that momentum. We have another couple of really good weeks with this week and next week at Doral and then a little bit of a break. It would be nice to kind of keep building on that beautiful start I had on the European Tour, and hopefully I can do something similar here on the U.S. Tour.”

Garcia even dared say the word, “Masters,” which has previously been one of his least favorite tournaments. He actually sounded as if he was looking forward to it. One has to wonder what’s getting into him.

* * *

U.S. Open champ Justin Rose, who missed the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury, withdrew from the Honda Classic Tuesday. The World No. 6 said he needed to cut back his schedule.

“While continued rehabilitation continues to help the persistent tendinitis in Justin’s right shoulder, scheduling four straight weeks of competition was aggressive to start the 2014 season,” Rose’s management team said in a statement.

Rose returns at next week’s WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral, where he won two years ago.

Sergio Garcia a paragon of sportsmanship at Accenture Match Play Championship – New York Daily News
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