VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) – Sergio Garcia apologized to Tiger Woods on Wednesday for saying he would have “fried chicken” at dinner with his rival, a comment that Woods described as hurtful and inappropriate.
“I want to send an unreserved apology. I did not want to offend anyone,” Garcia said Wednesday. “My answer was totally stupid and out of place.”
Garcia was at a European Tour awards dinner Tuesday night when he was jokingly asked if he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open. The two players had been verbally sparring since The Players Championship nearly two weeks ago.
“We’ll have him round every night,” Garcia replied. “We will serve fried chicken.”
The remark took the golfers’ differences into ugly territory, reminiscent of when Fuzzy Zoeller made a similar comment about Woods after he won the 1997 Masters, becoming the first player of black heritage to win a major.
“The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate,” Woods said in a series of tweets. “I’m confident that there is real regret the remark was made. The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move and talk about golf.”
For once, both players agreed. Garcia held an impromptu news conference at the BMW PGA Championship to elaborate on a statement he sent out Tuesday night through the European Tour.
“I want to also apologize to my Ryder Cup teammates who were there last night for taking the shine away from a wonderful event and, finally and foremost, I want to apologize to Tiger to anyone I could have offended. I felt very sick about it and feel really bad and just hope to settle things down and move on.”
Garcia said he called Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent at Excel Sports, because he doesn’t have a phone number for the world’s No. 1 player.
The Spaniard said his comment about fried chicken was not intended as a racist remark.
“It was a funny question and I wanted it to be a funny answer in reply,” he said. “I started to get a sick feeling straight after the dinner and I felt so bad I thought my heart was going to come out of my body.”