NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sergio Garcia has proven to be no match for Tiger Woods on the golf course, but he has now found himself in a public feud with Woods that to some perceive has become racially charged.
As CBS 2’s Otis Livingston reported, Garcia and Woods do not like each other – a fact that is well-known on the PGA tour. But it reached an all-time low Tuesday night at the European Tour Players’ Dinner.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported Garcia was asked in jest while on stage at the dinner Tuesday night if he would invite Woods to dinner during the U.S. Open.
The Guardian reported Garcia said: “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”
Garcia said he left the dinner feeling sick to his stomach and did not speak well. On Wednesday, he issued an apology.
“I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during The European Tour Players’ Awards dinner,” Garcia said in a statement released through the European Tour. “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.”
Woods responded Wednesday on Twitter, saying the remark was “wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate.”
Garcia has acknowledged not getting along with Woods and their testy relationship flared up again during The Players Championship at Sawgrass two weeks ago.
Garcia told reporters Wednesday morning that he was “caught off guard” by the dinner question.
“The only thing I can do is say sorry,” Garcia said.
Garcia said Woods carelessly created a disturbance in the gallery while Garcia was hitting a shot. The two traded barbs about the incident, as Woods won the tournament and Garcia fell apart in the final few holes.
This is not the first time derogatory comments have been made about Woods directly. In 1997, Woods was on the verge of winning another Masters title when Fuzzy Zoeller took heat for after Woods’ won the Masters for the first time back in 1997.
The Masters winner is allowed to choose the champions’ dinner menu for the following year. Zoeller said: “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.” Zoeller later apologized.
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