Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Garcia uses 'tree-iron' to strike ball after climb

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sergio Garcia might want to change his name to Tarzan.

Garcia provided an amazing highlight Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he climbed some 15 feet into an oak tree and played a shot back out to the fairway.

The Spaniard already was having a rough time at Bay Hill -- he made a 9 on the par-5 sixth hole -- when his tee shot at No. 10 sailed right into the trees. Not only did it get stuck in the tree, it came to rest at the base of two large limbs.

Garcia looked up in the tree, stood on a cart and leapt to pull himself up into the tree.

He was playing with William McGirt, who was having a hard time believing what he was seeing.

"I knew they were looking around the tree," McGirt said. "I didn't know they were looking in the tree. I looked over and Sergio is up in the air, and I'm trying to figure out what in the hell he's going to do. He called for a club. He's hugging the tree. And the ball comes flying out. Are you kidding me?"

The small crowd cheered when Garcia's caddie handed him a club. Maybe it was a tree-iron.

Garcia was so high up in the tree he had to stoop to grab the head of the club as his caddie reached high holding the end of the club. Garcia studied his options before playing a one-handed, backhanded shot out to the fairway.

More stunning was that he jumped from about eight feet up in the tree to get down, a landing that would have made a gymnast proud. Garcia showed little emotion other than to wipe off his hands and prepare for the next shot.

"It was just unbelievable," said McGirt, who stood in the fairway with arms crossed watching all this unfold.

Sadly for Garcia, he chunked his next shot and wound up with a double bogey. Two holes later, the horn sounded to suspend play because of a violent thunderstorm that cancelled play for the rest of the round. Garcia already was 5-over par for his round, and 3 over for the tournament.

McGirt said when they climbed into a van to be taken back to the clubhouse, Garcia handed him the scorecard and said, "I'm out of here."

He officially withdrew.

Garcia had said earlier in the week he was low on energy and enthusiasm and "I just want to go home." He plans to return at the Masters.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 25, 2013 C11

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