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Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: February 24, 1:46 PM ET
Sergio Garcia concedes long putt

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

MARANA, Ariz. -- Golf is known as a gentleman's game, but Sergio Garcia took sportsmanship to a surprising -- and some might say foolish -- level on Friday at the Match Play Championship.

And it may have contributed to him losing his third-round match to Rickie Fowler at Dove Mountain.

Garcia conceded an 18-foot par putt early in the round, one that helped Fowler halve the seventh hole and looked rather innocuous at the time. Garcia birdied the following hole to go 3-up in their match, but he ended up getting beat when Fowler played the final 10 holes in 5 under to win 1-up.

Fowler birdied the 18th hole to win 1-up -- his only lead of the day.

"I don't regret it at all," Garcia said of suggesting that he and Fowler pick up their balls from the seventh green when Fowler had a much longer putt. "He played much better than me on the last 10 holes and he deserves a win.

"This is a gentlemen's game, and lately it hasn't felt like it's been like that. This is the way I was brought up by my dad playing golf."

Garcia later referenced what happened to him in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last month when a television viewer called in a possible rules violation because video showed him tapping down what appeared to be a spike mark in his putting line. The Spaniard was incensed because the video did not show that earlier he had repaired a ball mark -- which is allowed -- and waiting for a playing partner to hit a putt before completing the repair work.

On Friday at the par-3 sixth hole, Garcia's ball came to rest near a sprinkler head that was covered with bees.

"I had some bad experiences with bees as a youngster ... I felt quite uncomfortable hitting the shot," he said. "I was talking to the referee and he told me to move to where I feel comfortable. I took a drop. Then the bees started flying around me. I felt quite uncomfortable again. So I asked him again and I took another drop again and hit the shot."

But Garcia felt bad he was making his opponent wait so long. Fowler was on the green and waiting to hit a birdie putt. He was 2 down at the time. The ruling and subsequent drops took several minutes. Both players ended up making par, but it bugged Garcia.

So on the seventh, with Fowler facing an 18-footer for par and Garcia having 7 feet left, he offered to have both players pick up their balls and take a half. Fowler didn't quite understand what was happening, several times asking Garcia what he meant.

"I had to kind of find out what he was asking or offering there," Fowler said. "Took me a few to kind of realize. And obviously I'd be stupid to not take a half. I was outside of him. He had a good look for par. He had the advantage there."

Added Garcia: "I felt guilty. I felt guilty that my drop on 6 took so long. I felt like if I would have been in his position I would have been uncomfortable waiting so long to hit my birdie putt. So I just thought I have to do something. I have to do something to make sure that I feel good with myself."

There was certainly the possibility that both players would miss and have the same result, but Garcia had the more makeable putt. If Fowler missed and Garcia made, the Spaniard would have gone 3-up. As it was, he went 3-up with a birdie on the eighth hole, but never made another the rest of the day.

Fowler won the ninth, 10th and 16th holes to tie -- then made a birdie putt at the 18th to win. It was the only time he led all day. He advances to Saturday's quarterfinals at the $9 million event to face Jim Furyk.