by Jeff Skinner
It seems that the past weeks of golf have been dominated by more feuds and fights than actual golf tournaments.
The PGA of America is taking shots at the Royal & Ancient. The PGA Tour balks at the USGA’s proposed anchoring ban. Vijay Singh gets suspended for deer antler spray, then gets reprieved and then sues the PGA Tour.
As crazy as all that appears they were only the undercard for this past week’s Tiger Woods vs Sergio Garcia main event. Who would have thought that Vijay’s lawsuit against the Tour would be forgotten in the drama between Woods and Garcia.
Feuds aren’t rare in golf but having them play out in public with players shooting barbs at one another through the media doesn’t happen often or at least to the extent we saw this past week.
Golf.com explores the “Best Feuds in Golf” in a photo spread that captures everyone from Jack and Arnie to Judge Smails and Al Czervik and of course Tiger and just about anyone.
Spend a few minutes perusing the combatants. You may be as surprised as I was when I saw that the Jones boys, Robert Trent Jr. and Rees have been going at it for years. And shockingly Phil Mickelson appears most often in their list of 22 of the best feuds in golf as they list five separate Phil Feuds..
How can the lovable, smiling, fan favorite Mickelson tally so many battles…here’s the tale of the tape for Phil.
1. Phil vs Tiger, of course.
2. Phil vs Steve Williams, remember the “prick” remark.
3. Phil vs Vijay, spike marks at The Masters.
4. Scott McCarron vs Phil, McCarron said Phil would be cheating if he played the “grandfathered in” Ping Eye 2’s. Phil was just stirring the pot as he like to do.
5. Phil vs Nike Golf, Phil said it was amazing that Tiger is as good as he was because he was using “inferior equipment.”
Moving on to the most recent of feuds, Tiger vs Sergio, Ron Sirak has the final word on what transpired on Saturday at the second hole. Sirak was following the two of them and was there when Sergio hit and Tiger’s crowd roared.
It’s a must read and he calls out Sergio for his futile attempts to get back at Tiger,” When play resumed after the weather delay, Sergio tried to play mind games with Tiger, but in that arena of competition, Garcia is giving up several shots a side.
On No. 7, with Sergio on the green after the weather delay, Tiger hit his approach shot and with Tiger still about 100 yards from the green, Sergio froze him by putting, possibly out of turn, which is not a rules violation in stroke play but an arrogant breach of etiquette.
On the next hole, as Woods putted for birdie, Garcia stood directly across from him, leaning on his putter with legs crossed at the ankles, not in an inappropriate position but in an annoying one. Seve Ballesteros would have loved it.”
As we all saw, Tiger wouldn’t have any of it and Sergio collapsed.
Sirak sums it up this way, “Here is my conclusion: There may have been bad communication between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia — and the marshals — concerning whose turn it was to hit on No. 2 at TPC Sawgrass. But there was no bad behavior, especially on the part of Tiger.
And my bottom line on the incident is this: Championship golf tests not only your physical skill and mental ability to make decisions under pressure, it also examines your character, specifically how well you cope when life deals you a bad hand.
Sergio got a bad break. It happens. Move on. He didn’t.
When it comes to mental toughness, Woods has Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as his only peers. Garcia has Jean Van de Velde. That’s why the major championship scorecard between Woods and Garcia reads 14-0, advantage Tiger.”
Sirak has plenty more to say but that’s the bottom line. Try as he may Sergio will never compare to Woods in the mental toughness category and Woods knows it.