James Lawton: Sergio Garcia cracks as major fault line opens up again following racist remark aimed at Tiger Woods

Trying to get the better of Tiger Woods looks like the last word in futility

One way or another, Sergio Garcia has been picking a fight with Tiger Woods for 14 years now but he doesn't seem to learn, does he? Some guys don't only have your number, they can pretty much claim outright ownership.

For the 33-year-old Spaniard this forlorn reality hit a new low when he was required to make a swift, albeit extremely lame, apology for the kind of insult which Woods handled with quite nonchalant authority on the occasion of his first US Masters victory as a 21-year-old in 1997.

The culprit then was former title-holder Fuzzy Zoeller, who warned the first black victor at Augusta not to offer fried chicken, collard greens or whatever the hell else his people served at the following year's champions dinner.

In Zoeller's case the cost was some dire humiliation and the loss of some significant sponsorship. For Garcia the price is nothing so much as the reminder that if his career, for all its periodically dazzling attributes and $28m worth of prize winnings, has become an agony of elusive fulfilment, no one is ever more likely or equipped to remind him of this more forcibly than the Tiger.

There is still a lively debate about how seriously, if at all, Woods offended golfing etiquette shortly before Garcia imploded so wretchedly in his company at the recent Players Championship in Sawgrass.

But then what we do know for sure is that trying to get the better of the Tiger, on or off the course, is once again looking like the last word in futility as far as Garcia is concerned.

At Augusta last month there was a strong body of opinion that the decent thing for Woods to do was withdraw after signing his card for a round in which he admitted he had broken the rules.

When this possibility was put to his entourage it might have been a submission from an alien planet. Now Garcia has been savaged, once again, by the remorseless Tiger.

Zoeller's face-to-face apology was accepted, though quite chillily, by Woods, but judging by some of Garcia's comments in the last 24 hours a similar accommodation between the two men seems distinctly unlikely.

Garcia said: "You can't like everybody. I think there are people that you can connect with and there are people that you don't. You know it's pretty much as simple as that. I think that he doesn't need me in his life and I don't need him in mine and let's move on and keep doing what we're doing."

The poignancy is that Woods has been doing it so much better in all those years since Garcia briefly charmed the American golf world as a 19-year-old who finished as top amateur in the Masters and who later in the year skipped and jumped down the Medinah fairway to see where his miracle shot from behind a tree had landed.

It had rolled up to the green and given him much momentum on his way to finishing second, by one shot, to the Tiger in the US PGA. But if he delighted many of his countrymen, he didn't thrill the Tiger.

The kid was an upstart presuming too much in Woods' own newly won empire and that impression was underlined when he appeared to be directly challenging the new status of the world's No 1 golfer, not least when Garcia cockily celebrated a skins victory over Woods.

The old hand Fred Couples quickly mimicked Garcia's exuberant run from behind the tree. The Tiger simply exacted career-long revenge, reflected hugely enough before that Sawgrass incident with a 14-0 lead in major titles.

Now the worry must be that Garcia is destined to rival his old Ryder Cup team-mate and captain Colin Montgomerie as one of the best golfers never to win a major. The fault line, the great betrayer, has long been apparent on the greens, a fact which led him to a brief flirtation with the belly-putter, now surely heading for extinction.

It means, as the years since all that remarkable promise begin to ebb away, that any solution to his most basic problem of confidence at the majors must come from somewhere deep in his own embattled psyche.

Back in that mostly glittering year of '99 – he also laid the foundation of a fine Ryder Cup record with three and a half points won in the company of Jesper Parnevik in the maelstrom of the battle of Brookline – Garcia shot a first-round 89 at the Open at Carnoustie and wept in the arms of his mother.

A few months later at Brookline, he reacted angrily to a question about the dénouement at Carnoustie, holding up his arms in disbelief as he turned to his team-mate and compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal.

It was a gentle enough enquiry about how it was he had recovered so brilliantly, so strongly, from a day that might just have broken a less resilient and precocious spirit. Maybe the problem with the question was that it was somewhat premature.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas