AUSTIN, Texas -- A missed 4-inch tap-in putt by Sergio Garcia on Saturday led to controversy at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship because the Spaniard did so before his opponent, Matt Kuchar, could concede it.
Because Kuchar, who was at the back of the seventh green, did not say anything before Garcia stabbed at the putt, the result stood and Kuchar won the hole on his way to a 2-up victory. He'll play face Lucas Bjerregaard in the semifinals Sunday at Austin Country Club.
"I didn't want that to be an issue," said Kuchar, who approached a rules official to see if the putt still could be conceded. "Sergio said it was totally his mistake. He knew he made a mistake. I said I didn't want that to be how the hole was won or lost.
"I don't use any gamesmanship, it's not a match play tactic, it's not anything. It was just one of those mistakes Sergio made. And I said it's kind of one of those tough deals in the game of golf."
Garcia had a 7-foot par putt that would have won the hole and tied the match. When it stopped a few inches away, he haphazardly backhanded the putter before Kuchar said anything and the ball missed the hole.
Instead of a tie, he lost the hole and went 2 down. Then he lost the subsequent hole, also missing a putt, and was visibly angry, swiping his putter in the air.
It was after that hole where Garcia suggested to Kuchar that he concede a hole to make up for what happened on the seventh.
"I thought about it and said I don't like that idea, either," Kuchar said.
"Typically there's an acknowledgement," he added of a conceded putt. "I understand how the concession needs to be vocal and I try to do a really good job. I hate it when guys sort of mumble something. I always try to be very clear, very vocal. This is one where I was on the back of the green. It happened so fast. I knew I hadn't conceded it. But it was never a tactic or anything."
Despite the apparent tension within the match, Garcia backed away from any controversy after it.
"It's quite simple: I screwed it up, it's as simple as that," he said. "Obviously I missed my putt and I kind of tapped it with the back of my putter before he said anything. It's a loss of hole. I understand that.
"There are many options that you can do if you don't want to take the hole, even though I've already lost that hole. But obviously he didn't like any of the options that were there. It's fine. At the end of the day, I'm the one who made the mistake."