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Garcia Threatened by Pro-Am Partner

European PGA: Spanish star is accused of giving wrong yardage to pin.

November 02, 2000|From Associated Press

JEREZ, Spain — Sergio Garcia quit halfway through a pro-am event Wednesday, accusing an amateur partner of threatening him in a dispute about yardage from the pin.

The Spanish star, competing in this week's Volvo Masters, was on the ninth hole when an argument began with Spanish businessman Luis Somoza.

"This gentleman, or man or whatever it is, asked me for yardage to the ninth pin," Garcia said. "He thought it was about 150 meters. But I said, 'No, it's about 115 meters.' He thanked me. I said, 'You're welcome.' "

Somoza came up short of the green. A 14-handicap golfer, Somoza then wagged a finger in the face of the 20-year-old star, witnesses said.

"He accused me of giving wrong yardages," Garcia said. "He said I should take more care of my partners. Then he used rude words to me and moved toward me with his hand raised and said he would hit me.

"He looked like he wanted to fight. Nobody hits me but my Dad. I realized it could only get worse on the back nine, so I left."

Somoza denied threatening Garcia but refused to comment further.

Garcia said he apologized to his other partners.

"I felt sorry for them," he said. "They were both great guys."

Salvador Moll, a hotel owner and playing partner, confirmed that Somoza threatened Garcia.

"It was very disappointing, very sad," Moll said.

Tournament director David Garland also backed Garcia's version of events and commended him for leaving.

"I think in this instance Sergio did the right thing," he said. "He nipped a dispute in the bud. We've no idea what might have happened if we'd forced him to play the back nine."

Mel Pyatt, managing director of Volvo Event Management, the sponsor of this week's $2.9-million tournament, was distressed.

"In all my years of involvement with pro golf I've never seen anything like this arise before," he said.

After an outstanding year in 1999--in which he won twice in Europe, finished second to Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship and played well in the Ryder Cup--Garcia has failed to win this season.

Garcia's father, Victor, missed his son's troubling day. He is flying to Florida this week to try for his Senior PGA Tour card.

"I told him not to hang around for the pro-am--it would be boring," said Sergio Garcia, rolling his eyes.

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