POTOMAC, Md. – Sergio Garcia appeared to let his anger over a ruling, which was later deemed incorrect, during the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship boil over into the game’s most divisive issue.
After pulling his tee shot into a hazard area at TPC Potomac’s 10th hole, the Spaniard was able to find his golf ball after a lengthy search. However, he was informed by a PGA Tour rules official that he had exceeded the time limit allowed under the Rules of Golf. According to Rule 18.2, players have three minutes to search for golf balls, but Garcia was told he’d exceeded that limit by a minute and a half.
“That’s absolute bulls--t,” he told the official.
Garcia has been linked to the Saudi-backed super league and according to various reports is among at least a dozen players who have requested conflicting event releases from the Tour to play the first LIV Golf invitational event in June.
Full-field scores from Wells Fargo Championship
Garcia’s anger over the ruling prompted him to suggest that his time on the PGA Tour is coming to an end, although he did not mention either LIV Golf or the super league.
“I can’t wait to leave this tour. I can’t wait to get out of here,” Garcia said before playing his third shot on the par-5 10th hole. “A couple of more weeks and I won’t have to deal with you anymore.”
Earlier this week, Lee Westwood and Richard Bland confirmed that they asked for releases to play the LIV Golf event in London and at last month’s Zurich Classic Robert Garrigus also confirmed he’d requested a release.
Garcia made par at the 10th hole and then on the par-4 15th, he holed out for eagle from 161 yards — his longest hole-out on Tour since the 2012 Genesis Invitational — to get to 3 under, two shots off the lead.
Garcia, who declined to speak with the media after his round, was later informed that the rules official had not considered the time he needed to cross the water hazard to reach his tee shot and that he did not exceed the time limit. “The ball would have still been ‘in play’ if not for the error,” a statement from the Tour read.
Because Garcia had already signed his scorecard and the round was completed, his score on the 10th hole did not change.