Sergio Garcia’s feud with Tiger Woods took an ugly turn on Tuesday when Garcia made a “fried chicken” joke about his fellow golfer.
Garcia took his ongoing verbal joust with Tiger Woods way out of bounds at an awards dinner for the European Tour on Tuesday, foolishly joking that he would invite the world No.1 around for dinner during the U.S. Open and saying, “We will serve fried chicken.”
García met George O’Grady, the European Tour chief executive, and Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner, after his morning pro-am on the West Course. Both were in the 300-strong audience at the dinner when García made the comment on the microphone surrounded by the 11 team-mates with whom he won the Ryder Cup last year, writes the Telegraph.
An immediate and seemingly genuine apology was issued but not in time to prevent everything from having shifted.
The golf superstar’s rival apologized profusely for a crude quip he made in the duo’s two week war of words—a comment which Woods subsequently called “inappropriate” for its racist undertones.
“The comment that was made wasn’t silly,” Woods wrote on Twitter. “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.”
“I want to send an apology,” had been his opening line. Followed by, “I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I was caught off-guard by the question. But don’t get me wrong, I understand that my answer was stupid and out of place. I can’t say sorry enough about that.
“Most importantly, I want to apologize to Tiger. I feel sick about it. I’m truly, truly sorry. I hope that we can settle things down and hopefully move on.”
“I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during the European Tour Players’ Awards dinner,” said Garcia.
“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.”
Tiger later expressed hope the two could move on from the controversy.
Though the European Tour neglected to penalise the Spaniard, his principal sponsors, TaylorMade-Adidas, issued a strongly worded statement in which they condemned the outburst, says the Independent.
“Sergio Garcia’s recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-Adidas Golf’s values and corporate culture.
“We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere. We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter.”
The review involves the Californian company’s human resources division and insiders claimed that it is possible that García’s contract would be cancelled. Another sponsor, Omega, is also likely to launch a review, although the watchmaker could not be contacted on Wednesday
The chief executive of the European Tour, George O’Grady, elected not to impose a sanction on Garcia after a lunchtime meeting.
“Together with Commissioner Tim Finchem of the PGA Tour, who attended the Players’ Awards Dinner with me last night, we spoke to Sergio Garcia at the conclusion of his Pro-Am round,” O’Grady said.
“Sergio expressed very deep and sincere regret for his unguarded and, in his own words, “stupid” remark and we are also aware of his statement of apology issued at 12.25am this morning. Following our meeting, we have accepted his full apology and we consider the matter closed.”