As we begin a week of discussion about the Rules of Golf and professionals declare how they need to make their own rules, just consider what took place with Sergio Garcia in Saudi Arabia. At least in the European Tour’s case, I’m not sure they are the best judges of their players.
To review, Garcia is turned in by his peers for intentionally vandalizing greens at Royal Greens in the inaugural event where the tournament host likely ordered a journalist’s murder and dismemberment. There were no fans on site and few media, so the antics could only be noticed by his peers. The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster quoted a few of the witnesses who, amazingly, chalk the behavior up to a mistake even as they watched a player vandalize the playing surfaces.
Worse, the European Tour intends no further action:
However, according to the European Tour’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, the matter is now closed. “The incident is over,” he said, speaking at the event in King Abdullah Economic City. “We have dealt with it. Sergio has apologised to the players and we move on.”
While no video has surfaced of Garcia dragging his feet, Dempster posted this image shared with him of Garcia having taken a divot out of a green. Conduct unbecoming, needless to say.
The day prior, Garcia threw this hissy fit in a bunker:
As I noted here, Garcia needs a long suspension. He previously took a six month break from the game and it did wonders for his attitude. A longer break would serve him and the game well at this point.
That Keith Pelley is unwilling to recognize this in an obvious effort to protect a star is both sad and irresponsible. Ultimately the European Tour’s credibility hinges on a sense that a fair playing field is paramount, as is the upholding of basic etiquette in a sport where sponsors pay handsomely to be associated with the quality sportsmanship so consistently demonstrated by most professional golfers.