Brian Keogh in Miami
The gulf in class between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia grew even wider during the WGC - CA Championship in Miami, where the world number one appeared certain to cruise to an incredible 13th individual World Golf Championship victory from just 24 starts at Doral’s Blue Monster last night.
While Woods is golf's unsullied global ambassador, 27-year-old Garcia appears determined to regain his reputation as the bad boy of the fairways following a spitting incident during Saturday's third round.
Aggravated after three-putting for bogey on the Blue Monster's par-three 13th hole, a frequent occurrence for the man ranked 103rd on the greens on the PGA Tour, the salivating Spaniard spat into the cup before heading to the next tee.
Garcia is almost certain to be fined by the PGA Tour for an act that was only surprising for the fact that he managed to find the hole from short range.
"There's nothing to it," Garcia told NBC's Jimmy Roberts afterwards. "I wasn't too happy ... Anyway, it's no big deal."
What Australian's Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley found waiting for them in the hole in the match behind is anyone's guess, though Garcia was quick to point out that there was nothing to worry about.
"Don't worry, it did go in the middle," Garcia said. "It wasn't going to affect anybody else. I noticed that. If it did, I would have cleaned it."
Garcia’s tendency to flare up like an unstable volcano has become something of a regular occurrence since he turned professional in 1999.
In that year's World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, he took out his ire on his golf shoe, kicking the offending article and narrowly missing referee John Grant, after losing his footing on one of his explosive drives.
While he was warned about his future conduct, he reoffended the following year and was reported for slamming a club into the turf at the Open Championship at St Andrews.
Worse was to follow during the 2001 Greg Norman International in Sydney where he hit a golf buggy and a tree with his sand wedge and criticised chief referee John Paramor after being penalised for taking a wrong drop.
Although the European Tour would not announce the size of the penalty at the time, Garcia was thought to have been fined £5,000. He was also fined on his way to victory in the 2005 European Masters in Switzerland, for kicking an advertising hoarding during his third round, again after three-putting.
His Saturday shenanigans hardly seemed to register with the huge Latin contingent that turned up to watch him tee off in the final round, whooping in delight as his opening drive hooked 50 yards into the rough.
It hooked so far that he had a clear view of the green and promptly birdied the hole with a chip and the only kind of putt Garcia seems to enjoy these days - a tap in from 18 inches.
Anything Garcia can do, Woods and do better and he proved it at the 529-yard opening hole to extend his four shot overnight lead to five when he holed a left-to-right curling 16-footer birdie putt down the hill.
Amazingly, it was the 18th time that Woods had either eagled or birdied that hole from 20 attempts and while he would bogey the third by missing a five foot putt, his dominance of the WGC events is nothing short of staggering.
Since the series began in 1999, Woods has won 12 individual titles from 23 starts for earnings of $ 15.17 million and taken the CA Championship (formerly the American Express) five times between 1999 and 2006 in places as far afield as Ireland, Spain and England as well as Georgia and San Francisco.
His final round was not all plain sailing, despite that opening birdie and another at the the fifth as bogeys at the third and sixth left him a tantalising four shots clear of Robert Allenby and Brett Wetterich on 11 under par with 11 to play.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington closed with a one under par 71 to finish comfortably inside the top half of the field on one under par.
The Dubliner, birdied the par five opening hole, bogeyed the sixth after a poor bunker shot and then birdied the seventh to go one under par for the tournament.
The world number 10 bogeyed the 17th after driving into a bunker but finished strongly by firing a 180 yard approach to seven feet for a closing birdie at Doral's feared 18th