Golf Coast commentary | Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler's weird concession shows sportsmanship

jdill@bradenton.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Every sport has its unusual moments, and golf is no exception.

From T.C. Chen's double-hit chip shot at the 1985 U.S. Open to Jean van de Velde's meltdown at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie, golf has produced some weird occasions.

Another happened this past week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship match between Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

The duo did the "good-good" routine over their par putts at the seventh green in a third-round match.

Garcia and Fowler's concession on each putt is a typical occurrence in a match play.

The difference in this scenario is that Fowler's par effort was from 18 feet, while Garcia's was much closer.

At the time, it seemed like it wouldn't matter as the Spaniard led Fowler 2-up.

However, Fowler ultimately came back and birdied the 18th hole for a 1-up victory.

It's a bizarre situation to say the least, and Garcia is no stranger to making headlines for oddities on the course.

For a long while, his seemingly never-ending waggles prior to each shot caused dismay from fans and even some heckling during Ryder Cup competitions.

And just last year, Garcia was embroiled in a verbal feud with Tiger Woods at the Players Championship and later caught ire for a racist comment he made about Woods.

It's not a pretty history for Garcia.

But Garcia should be applauded for last week's concession.

His reasoning was that he felt he took too long on the previous hole when he was given a free drop from a swarm of bees near a sprinkler head.

By doing so, Garcia said he felt it affected Fowler's putt on that hole.

"I feel like unfortunately the game lately hasn't been

what it should be," Garcia said to reporters. "I think that we are gentlemen. That's the key thing in this game of golf."

It's a refreshing thing to hear from an athlete in the 21st century.

All too often, we're wrapped up in the win-at-all-costs attitude. It's in every level nowadays, from Little League to the professional ranks.

Golf has always been a different sport, one devoted to the idea that it is a gentleman's game where you can call a penalty on yourself.

It's not like baseball, a game steeped in deception.

Therefore, cheating or a perceived advantage isn't taken in the same light with golf as it is with other sports.

So kudos to Garcia for steering away from the step-on-the-jugular mentality so pervasive in today's sports world, even if it ultimately cost him a chance to progress in the tournament.

It's the kind of moment that makes you think of Manatee County resident Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus from the 1969 Ryder Cup.

The Golden Bear conceded a short putt to Jacklin in what is widely viewed as the top moment of sportsmanship in the game's history. That concession produced the first tie in Ryder Cup history, which did not affect the outcome as the United States retained possession of the trophy.

Maybe Garcia's moment will do the same.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill.

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