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Garcia Continues to Back-Pedal on Comments about Woods
For the second time in two days, Sergio Garcia apologized for racially insensitive remarks he aimed at Tiger Woods. Now in Surrey, England, for the BMW PGA Championships, one of the European Tour's marquee events, the 33-year-old Spaniard drew international ire when he answered a question at a players' dinner Tuesday night about getting together with Woods at the U.S. Open by saying, "We'll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken."
The statement was eerily like a remark made at the 1997 Masters by Fuzzy Zoeller in response to a question about what Woods' menu would be for the Champions Dinner the following year.
"So you know what you guys do when he gets in here?" Zoeller said to reporters. "Pat him on the back, say congratulations, enjoy it. And tell him not to serve fried chicken next year - or collared greens or whatever the hell they serve." Zoeller received a lot of heat then and lost some endorsements, but was not sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
Garcia released his first mea culpa through the European Tour Tuesday night after the dinner that read: "I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during the European Tour Players' Awards dinner. 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."
Garcia and Woods have been in a battle of words for the past two weeks. Never particularly close on or off the course, the two came to loggerheads during the second round of the Players Championship, when - in Garcia's mid-swing as he was on the other side of the fairway - Woods pulled a 5-wood from his bag that elicited a loud cheer from the gallery that Garcia said caused him to miss the green and led to a bogey on the par-5.
On Wednesday afternoon, Garcia said his flippant remark led to a sleepless night and that he considered withdrawing this week, noting his comments were "totally stupid and out of place."
"It wasn't meant that way," he said. "I was caught off-guard. What seemed to be a funny question, and I tried to give a funny answer. It came out totally wrong. I want to make sure everybody knows I'm very, very sorry. I can't apologize enough times. As soon as I left the dinner, I started getting a sick feeling in my body. I didn't really sleep at all. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my body. I've had this sick feeling all day. Difficult to hit a shot all day."
After hearing of Garcia's "fried chicken" comment, Woods tweeted, "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate."
One of Garcia's main sponsors wasn't pleased with his comments as indicated in the following statement: "Sergio Garcia's recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-adidas Golf's values and corporate culture."
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour CEO George O'Grady were both in attendance at the Tuesday night dinner and heard Garcia's remarks. Garcia said he met with both executives Wednesday morning, apologizing to both. He said he had not been sanctioned by either tour.