Sergio Garcia won his first Major Championship at the US Masters last weekend, and received much adulation from fans and fellow pros alike. Not everyone was so forthcoming in their praise for the Spaniard, however.
Padraig Harrington, the conquerer of Garcia in two of his three major wins, was present at Augusta National for the 81st edition of the Masters, but was not part of the field. The Irishman opened up on his strained relationship with the 37-year-old, labelling his fellow Ryder Cup stalwart as a ‘sore loser’ after their previous clashes.
The two-time British Open and PGA champion told reporters how he congratulated Sergio through gritted teeth, as quoted by British tabloid the Mirror:
“I was as polite as I could and was as generous as I could be, but he was a very sore loser. And he continued to be a very sore loser. So clearly, after that, we have had a very sticky wicket. The Ryder Cup improved it no end.”
The 45-year-old shed further light on the pair’s frosty relationship, when speaking to ESPN:
“We say hello to each other every day and it is through gritted teeth, there is no doubt about it. I know he is watching what I am doing and I am watching what he is doing. It is one of those things. He’s a rival. Myself and Sergio have been on tour as long as each other. We would have been the opposite. He is a very flamboyant game, everything comes easy. There were periods he never practiced. We were such opposites. I worked at it, grinded it out. Got the best out of it.”
Garcia and Harrington are not the only PGA Tour players who do not see eye-to-eye, however. Here we take a look at some of the most heated rivalries within the beautiful game.
Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh
The Fijian accused the five-time major champion of wearing golf shoes with oversized spikes at Augusta National in 2005, which he believed caused damage to the immaculate greens. The pair have never shared an amicable relationship since.
Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh
Notice a common theme developing? Singh angered Woods in 2006 when he had his caddy sport the logo ‘Tiger Who?’ on his cap, after usurping the 14-time major champion as World Number One.
Woods responded by reeling off a succession of tournament wins, before returning to his rightful spot as the world’s best. Their relationship since can be described as anything but cordial.
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia
The Spaniard firstly risked the wrath of Woods in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in 2002, when he returned to the locker room after playing in dreadful conditions, and told reporters that the entire field would have been called in, had Tiger been out on the course.
Sergio then accused the Florida native of whipping the gallery into a frenzy at the Players Championship in 2013, when Woods pulled the headcover off of a fairway wood, whilst Garcia was in the middle of his shot.
Tensions rose to near irreparable levels later that year, when Garcia aimed what was perceived as a racist barb towards Woods. When asked by reporters whether he would invite the American superstar round for dinner during the U.S. Open, he replied:
“We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”
They certainly won’t be on each other’s Christmas card lists.
Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo
Faldo came out on top in plenty of duels between the two down the years, including the 1987 Open Championship at Muirfield, where the Englishman emerged victorious.
The Bradenton naive expressed his distaste for Faldo during the week leading up to the 2008 Ryder Cup:
“Nick Faldo has tried to redefine himself. I’d say he is both who he is and who he was. Some people have bought it. Some have not. But if you’re going to be a p***k and everyone hates you, why do you think that just because you’re trying to be cute and funny on air now that the same people are all going to start to like you? The bottom line is that the players from his generation and mine really don’t want to have anything to do with him. He did what he did as a player and there are relational consequences.”
Whether Faldo is loved or hated, his six major championships will surely give him some solace.
Bubba Watson and the World
The two-time masters champ is an extremely divisive character.
In 2015, he was chosen as the least liked player on tour by 23 per cent of his peers. The slow manner in which he approaches his shots has become painfully tedious to watch, let alone play alongside.
Bubba should be careful to avoid any confrontation at tournaments in future, because around a quarter of the field most certainly will not have his back.