Golf: Sergio Garcia avoids suspension over Saudi International meltdown


Sergio Garcia tees off from the 14th hole during the third round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, on Jan 26, 2019.
Sergio Garcia tees off from the 14th hole during the third round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, on Jan 26, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - Sergio Garcia is set to avoid a hefty fine and suspension after European Tour boss Keith Pelley declared the matter "over" following the Spaniard's stunning disqualification from the Saudi International last week.

Garcia was thrown out of the event on Saturday (Feb 2) after reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and a number of other players complained that the Spaniard had displayed his frustration by damaging six greens.

Garcia apologised for his actions and reportedly spoke with Reed and other fellow competitors to express his remorse.

The former Masters winner was accused of scuffing up six of the opening greens and also leaving a large divot-like mark on the sixth green of the Royal Greens course.

And while Garcia has a long history of "misconduct", it seems on this occasion he will escape any further action.

"The incident is over," Pelley told The Scotsman newspaper. "We have dealt with it. Sergio has apologised to the players and we move on."

Garcia's actions were not on film but he was spoken to by tournament director David Williams in the latter stages of his third round.

"I went out after the referees had spoken to me," said Williams.

"I managed to catch Sergio around the 12th and 13th and there had been no more damage after nine holes. I told him this was a disqualifiable offence. He was in his game zone, but he listened. We exchanged a few pleasantries and then he nodded and carried on walking.

"It was obviously not a good situation to be in. He was obviously very frustrated and it is something very unusual to happen. Some of the marks were similar to what we sometimes see out in South Africa when a buck has run across a green. Over here it could have been a camel.

"The players in the groups immediately behind didn't know what was going on. They wanted to know what was happening to the greens. To be honest, they were pretty shocked."

Garcia's third-round playing partner, Renato Paratore of Italy, remarked: "I was not complaining.

"It was a bad day for him and I saw only one hole when he was doing something wrong. I don't remember what it was. I was focused on what I was doing. But it is okay."

Garcia had first displayed his frustration during Friday's second round when he attacked a bunker following a poor shot ahead of just making the cut by two strokes.

"Yes, but that can happen on the course," added Paratore. "I know him really well and he's a very good guy off the course. It can happen to everyone."

Garcia has a long history of petulant behaviour dating back to 1999, when he hurled his shoe at an advertising board at the back of the tee during the World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth.

Two years later in Sydney, he incurred a £5,000 (S$8,807) fine after kicking a golf cart and attacking a tree with his club when unhappy at being handed a two-stroke penalty for an incorrect drop.

In 2010, Garcia was believed to have been slapped with a US$10,000 (S$13,511) fine after spitting into a hole during the WGC-CA Championship at Doral in Florida.

And more recently, he kicked in a metal panel of the scorer's hut after the third round of the Valspar Championship last March.

The following month, he hurled his driver into bushes after a poor 14th-hole tee shot during the second round of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.