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Garcia Shakes Hands with Woods Monday & Leaves Apology Letter a Day Later
It's pretty obvious that Sergio Garcia's racially insensitive remark directed at Tiger Woods in late May has been eating at him. He's apologized publicly several times, and said the incident has affected his play.
Their first face-to-face meeting since the brouhaha began came Monday on the driving range at Merion Golf Club, site of this week's U.S. Open, which both players are competing in. After shaking hands - without either one commenting, the 33-year-old Spaniard told reporters on Tuesday that he left a note in Woods' locker.
"We saw each other on the range and I was hoping to meet him after the (practice) round, but he was gone after the round and the weather obviously didn't help," Garcia said during a Q&A with reporters on Tuesday. "This morning I was here early and didn't see him around. He got here later on. I did leave him a handwritten note.
"Hopefully he can take a look at it. It's a big week and I understand that it's difficult to meet up and stuff. So hopefully I'll be able to do it. If not, at least he has read the note and he's happy with that."
All these moves followed several public apologies by Garcia after his flip remark during a players' dinner two days before the start of the BMW PGA Championship in England. Garcia received worldwide condemnation at that time when he answered a question about getting together with Woods at the U.S. Open by quipping, "We'll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken."
The statement was eerily similar to 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 then. "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. Neither was Garcia.
When asked Tuesday what the note said, Garcia, answered, "Well, I don't think that's for me to say. I think that if he wants to show you I mean the note is for him, so if he wants to show you, then he can. I don't have any problems with that. But I am not going to be the one showing you. Sorry."
Garcia began his Tuesday press conference by issuing another apology and saying that he hoped "we can all move forward." He was often contrite in the 21-minute session, especially when questioned by African-American journalist L.A. Parker, a columnist with The Trentonian newspaper of New Jersey. Parker asked Garcia if he realized that his comments extended beyond Woods and that they "have a stinging feeling to people who look like me and people who don't look like me that like you."
"I understand that," Garcia responded. "That's obviously that's why I said sorry, because I can obviously see that I hurt a lot of people. And that doesn't make me feel good. I can tell you that. I wish I could go back in time and take back what I said, but unfortunately, I said it. You know, the only thing I can do is show you my respect from here moving forward.
"I tried to be as respectful as possible competing and hopefully my at what I do will show you how much I care about everybody. So only time will tell us I guess."