Golf

Garcia truly plays it where it lies

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)

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

TREE HUGGER

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''First, I went up there to identify the ball and then saw that I could make the shot with just one hand,'' Garcia said on his website. ''Luckily, it went well.''

The rest of the day did not.

Garcia withdrew from the tournament, saying in a statement on his website that his left shoulder and Achilles tendon were hurt and he did not want to risk doing more damage by finishing six holes on Monday. During the shot, he leaned hard on his left shoulder and tried to balance himself on one foot. Eventually, he wrapped his left arm around a limb to swat at the shot back-handed.

The statement said that when Garcia was in the tree, he forced the left shoulder to the point he could barely feel it, and his next shot - a chunked wedge that only went about 30 yards - was a result of his sore left shoulder.

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.

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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 go. 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 that 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, back-handed shot out to the fairway.

More stunning was that he jumped from a height of around 8 feet to get down from the tree, a landing that would have made a gymnast proud. Garcia showed little emotion other than to wipe off his hands and prepare to play the next shot.

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

Garcia wound up making double bogey. Two holes later, the horn sounded to suspend play because of a violent thunderstorm that canceled 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.''

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

He said on his website that pulling out was ''not an easy decision.''

''I wanted to continue and finish the round and the tournament, in spite of it not being the best of days,'' Garcia said. ''But the discomfort would have been more, and I decided not to continue to avoid hurting me more.''

Tagged: Sergio Garcia, William McGirt

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