Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia made news this past weekend at the World Match Play Championships at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. Both players have been popular in the news lately for some negative actions on and off the course. During their match, the pairing came under scrutiny as Garcia quick hit a putt, only to miss, before Kuchar was given an opportunity to concede the putt.
Kuchar then approached the rules official stating that he did not give Garcia the putt, and was unsure how to proceed forward. This is a rules infraction in Match Play, and therefore Garcia was penalized, and lost the hole. Kuchar explained, “I didn’t want to win the hole like that.” If he didn’t want to win the hole like that, then why did he say anything in the first place?
The putt Sergio missed was nearly inches away, and he would have made it 100/100 times had he taken the time to hit it right. Sure, Sergio overreacted a little bit and should have been smarter in the situation and waited for the concession, but he owned up to the mistake and accepted it was completely his fault.
The problem I take is what happened next. Sergio asked Kuchar, if he really didn’t want to win in that fashion, then why not just concede the next hole to Sergio? Let’s get one thing straight here, Sergio was not missing that short little putt and in my opinion, Kuchar should have just said the putt was good and moved on, but asking someone to concede the next hole is a little over the top in my opinion. Kuchar said he didn’t want to win a hole like that, but going straight to the rules official is like your playing partner not telling you to move your coin back on the putting green until after you have already putted. I get it, Sergio doesn’t have the best past record in these situations, and I do think he was in the wrong asking Kuchar to concede the next hole, but I agree that Kuchar once again did not handle a situation properly.
If I’m playing a match with a buddy, there is no way I’m letting him lose a hole like that. Call it sportsmanship, integrity, or whatever you’d like, but there is some honor in the game in knowing what is the right thing to do. I understand these guys are playing at a much higher stage, for millions of dollars, but a 2 inch putt is a 2 inch putt. There is a big difference between not knowing the rules of golf, and then know the rules and purposely committing a rules infraction. There’s also the addition of using common sense, and if you supposedly “don’t want to win like that”, then don’t.
Remember in the “The Match” when Phil gave Tiger a 6 footer on the 18thhole because he “didn’t want to win like that.” There’s your sign.