*The ongoing beef between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods went to an ugly level on Tuesday night at the European Tour awards dinner in England, where Garcia made a racist comment toward the world’s No. 1 golfer.
Garcia was asked in jest if he would be inviting Woods to dinner during next month’s U.S. Open. According to multiple media reports, Garcia responded, “We’ll have him ’round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”
According to media reports, Garcia left the European Tour awards dinner Tuesday night at the BMW PGA Championship in Virginia Water, England, before he could be questioned. He later issued a statement through the European Tour.
“I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during the European Tour Players’ Awards dinner,” Garcia said. “I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark, but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner.”
This morning, Tiger responded via Twitter: “The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate. …I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. …The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.”
As previously reported, Garcia took issue with Woods for what he viewed as a breach of golf course etiquette during the third round of The Players Championship two weeks ago. Garcia became annoyed early in the third round when he hit his second shot well to the right of the par-5 second hole. While standing over the ball, he heard commotion behind him as Woods was surveying his second shot from an area to the left of the fairway where he had to clear a path of spectators. Woods pulled a 5-wood from his bag at around the time Garcia was over his shot 50 yards away, and that simple act drew cheers from the spectators.
Television replays show Garcia was not in his backswing but standing over the ball when the fans cheered, but he clearly felt that affected his shot. Replays showed the noise occurred while Garcia was standing over his ball, not in his backswing. And Woods was surrounded by spectators and could not see Garcia; it is also unlikely he would expect cheering simply because he took a club out of his bag.
This morning, Garcia addressed the media in England (pictured above) and apologized for the “fried chicken” remark again, saying “my answer was totally stupid and out of place. I feel sick about it.”
Meanwhile, this was not the first time “fried chicken” (associated with racial stereotypes of African-Americans) was referenced in a racist manner toward Tiger by a fellow golfer. A similar comment got Fuzzy Zoeller in trouble following the 1997 Masters, when he quipped that fried chicken would be served at the following year’s champions’ dinner, which Woods would host as defending champion.