Garcia tells Masters media to stop talking about LIV-PGA
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Sergio Garcia is tired of talking about the LIV-PGA Tour feud.
After opening the Masters with a 2-over 74, Garcia shot back at reporters who asked Thursday if this felt like a normal event with all that’s going on away from the course.
“Totally normal,” Garcia said. “You guys need to stop it. You guys are making a big deal out of this, and it’s you guys.”
When a reporter took issue with Garcia’s comment, the Spaniard didn’t back off.
“I’ve had nothing but great things from every single player I talk to,” he said. “So please stop it and talk about the Masters.”
Maybe it was because of his lowly place in the world rankings — No. 425, sandwiched between India’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu and Argentina’s Tano Goya.
Not much to see here.
Just another aging golfer whose best days are behind him.
But this is Phil Mickelson, the People’s Champion, long one of the game’s most popular players and perhaps its biggest draw outside of Tiger Woods.
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Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, was among 18 players from the Saudi-backed LIV tour taking part in the first major of the year, though the number quickly dropped to 17 when Kevin Na withdrew after playing only nine holes.
LIV Golf has doled out huge amounts of money to lure some of the game’s best-known players away from the PGA Tour, a group that includes six former Masters winners including Garcia and three-time champion Phil Mickelson.
The formation of a rival tour has led to court battles and harsh words from both sides, though there were no outward signs of hostility at Augusta National..
The European tour, an ally with the PGA Tour, won a victory Thursday when an independent tribunal ruled it could sanction members who competed in LIV Golf without permission.
The PGA Tour also has suspended players who joined the rival tour without getting a waiver, though that doesn’t apply to the four major championships.
Garcia said he was unaware of the ruling and declined further comment.
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“How can I talk about something I don’t know?” he said. “Obviously I don’t look at the news. So I don’t know what happened. I’m not going to talk about something without all the information that I need.”
At mid-afternoon, Brooks Koepka and Joaquin Niemann of Chile were off to the best starts among LIV players. They were 4 under and three strokes behind leader Viktor Hovland of Norway and another Spaniard Jon Rahm, who both opened with a 65 on a warm spring day in Augusta.
Among other LIV players, Patrick Reed opened with a 71, Talor Gooch and Abraham Ancer posted 72s, Jason Kokrak shot 73, Thomas Pieters 74, Louis Oosthuizen 76, and Bubba Watson 77.
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