Woods vs. Garcia? Close the book

ARDMORE, Pa. -- Before you can dive headfirst into the murky water hazard that is Sergio Garcia versus Tiger Woods, you have to remember two things:

1. Garcia can't stand Woods.

2. Woods can't stand Garcia.

It's not that they don't get along. It's that there's no along to get. You'd need a centrifuge to separate a molecule of respect between Garcia and Woods.

So it should come as zero surprise that the shelf life of this latest Sergio-Tiger dustup can be measured in seconds. As it should be.

We all know what Garcia did in late May at a European Tour gala dinner. He used the "FC" words -- fried chicken. And he used them in reference to Woods, in a public setting, in front of some of his golfing peers, with media in attendance.

It was dumb then. It is dumb now. It will be dumb forever.

But the statute of limitations has run out on outrage. That's not me talking; that's Woods and Garcia saying so. And they said -- repeatedly during their Tuesday news conferences at Merion Golf Club -- that it was time to move on.

"It's already done," Woods said. "We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open and we tee it up in two days."

And this from Garcia later in the day: "I want to apologize for what happened a couple of weeks ago. But hopefully, like Tiger said, the matter [is] closed and hopefully we can all move forward and kind of start competing, and respectfully and hopefully we can all have a great tournament."

That would be nice. The U.S. Open deserves better than a catfight started by Garcia's insulting comments in May. Or by his silly comments at The Players Championship, where he accused Woods of somehow inciting the galleries by pulling a club when Garcia was in mid-backswing.

Garcia was wrong about the fried chicken thing, about the backswing thing, about lots of things when it comes to giving and getting respect. But Garcia does deserve credit -- lots of it -- for answering each and every question Tuesday.

Golf humiliates even the best players. Just ask Garcia, who whined about his misfortune after losing a playoff in the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie … who finished T-2 in the 2008 PGA Championship … who said Woods received preferential treatment during the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage (Garcia apologized for that one, too) … who was tied with Woods at last month's Players as he stepped to the tee box of the island-green 17th hole. Then Garcia sent two balls swimming with the fishes.

Garcia did what he had to do Tuesday: He fell on his 4-iron, issued another apology to Woods, said he put a note of apology in Woods' locker. A day earlier on the range, Garcia offered a handshake to the world's No. 1 player.

Short of sending a dozen roses to Woods' rental house, I'm not sure what else Garcia can do to spackle up the public relations hole he created. He did his duty.

"Well, obviously, I've been very worried about the whole situation," Garcia said. "I felt terrible about it. … I wish I could go back in time and take back what I said, but unfortunately I said it."

Garcia didn't have much choice but to make his Tuesday a Mea Culpa Day. Maybe you think it was a shrewd, calculated move done to placate Woods, the media and the Philadelphia crowds.

Consider: Garcia initiated the handshake in clear view of photographers and TV cameras. He told reporters that he wrote an apology note. He began his presser by apologizing again.

I'm skeptical, but not cynical. I think Garcia was sincere Tuesday. His apology seemed heartfelt.

It won't dissolve the dislike between Woods and Garcia. That cement has dried and cured. Nothing will make these two players friends.

Asked if Garcia had personally apologized to him, Woods said, "No, we haven't had time for that."

Maybe they'll make time. If they don't, the U.S. Open will go on. If they do, the U.S. Open will go on.

"Well, don't get me wrong," Garcia said, "I respect Tiger very much. I think he's a wonderful player."

You'll notice he didn't say Woods was a wonderful person. That's because Garcia doesn't truly respect Woods. Just as Woods doesn't truly respect Garcia.

This is another fun-filled page in the Sergio versus Tiger book. It wasn't Garcia's proudest moment, but at least it's done.

Who knows if Woods will forgive, but he definitely won't forget. And who knows if Garcia can keep his golf cleats out of his mouth. History suggests he can't.

Time to close the book. Time for the U.S. Open.