IF SERGIO Garcia was hoping to stay out of the spotlight a bit more in 2014 than he managed last year, he has failed miserably so far.
But, after only having himself to blame on day one in the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship by branding the rough “dangerous”, it wasn’t down to him that it happened again yesterday.
Overnight, footage had been posted on a website that showed the Spaniard tapping down something on the line of his putt on the 18th green, which would have been in breach of the rules if it was a spike mark.
However, the world No 10 and John Paramor, the European Tour’s chief referee, went out to the exact spot yesterday morning and Paramor was satisfied with Garcia’s explanation that he had tapped down a repaired pitch mark.
On the back of the Simon Dyson incident in October that led to the Englishman being hit with a two-month suspended ban, Garcia was livid nonetheless that he was the subject of a “cheating” claim.
“It’s the most disgusting thing that can happen to someone, especially someone like me that has never, ever cheated,” he said after scraping into the final two rounds following a spirited 68.
“To be related to that word, when people have no proof, hurts. I’ve never cheated in my whole life. And I’ve imposed plenty of penalty strokes on myself when nobody saw it and I did.”
Asked if it was wrong for players to be accused through such a process, he added: “No, I think the people who say that without any proof are wrong.
“If you can really tell, you can really see that it’s wrong, that someone has cheated, it’s fine.
“But, if you have no proof at all and you’re just guessing what happened, that’s wrong.”