PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Being in contention at The Players Championship was nothing new for Sergio Garcia.
Neither was the heckling.
But it sure seemed louder and more obnoxious than normal for the Spaniard during the three-man, three-hole playoff Sunday.
Garcia was harassed on several shots, most notably when a small group of spectators yelled “U-S-A!” during his putting stroke at the famed 17th green. Garcia didn’t really come close on the 40-footer and later failed to advance to the sudden-death portion of the playoff.
Rickie Fowler and Kevin Kisner did, and Fowler followed with his fifth birdie of the week at the island hole and notched his second PGA Tour victory.
“It was great for the most part,” Garcia said. “Obviously, some guys there that don’t deserve to be here watching golf, but that’s what it is.”
Asked how often he was heckled, Garcia said “it was probably about three or four times on every hole since the 10th hole.”
Garcia said that’s pretty typical when he’s in contention at an event and refused to blame his play down the stretch on anything other than himself.
“No, no, no, they shouted at the wrong time on top of the ball, so I was able to back away,” he said. “But, no, no, I wouldn’t say that I did, no.”
Garcia had a two-shot lead on the back nine, but Fowler and Kisner closed the gap and forced golf’s version of overtime. Garcia made three pars in the three-hole aggregate playoff, not enough to move on after Fowler and Kisner made birdies at 17.
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But Garcia walked away from The Players feeling much better about his game, especially his putting. He struggled on the Bermuda greens earlier in the week, so much so that he threw one putter in the garbage and even switched grips in the middle of a round.
He needed just 27 putts in the final round Sunday.
“I putted quite good,” he said. “But for the rest of the week, I gave away a lot of shots and still almost won this tournament. So I can’t be disappointed.”
Garcia tied for second with Kisner. It was his third consecutive top-10 finish at The Players and sixth in the last 13 years.
“Overall, it was another good week here at The Players so I can’t be disappointed,” he said.