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Garcia sorry after 'fried chicken' slur

By Reuters in Virginia Water, England | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-24 07:28

 Garcia sorry after 'fried chicken' slur

Things weren't always tense between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. Shown here during the second round of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia on April 9, 1999, the two have since grown apart. Garcia was at a European Tour awards dinner on Tuesday night when he was jokingly asked if he would have Woods over for dinner during the US Open. The Spaniard replied, "We'll have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken". Elise Amendola / Associated Press

Woods tweets that racist remark wasn't silly, but was hurtful and inappropriate

Sergio Garcia said "sorry" 11 times and used the word "apology" on five occasions as he spoke of his regret at causing a furor by making a "fried chicken" jibe at world No 1 Tiger Woods.

Spaniard Garcia said on Wednesday his comment, made at the European Tour Player of the Year awards the night before, was "stupid and out of place" and said he regretted it the moment he made it.

Fourteen-time major winner Woods, whose relationship with the Spaniard is frosty at best, was in an unforgiving mood earlier in the day.

"The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate," the American said on his Twitter account.

Garcia's remark came when he was asked on stage whether he would be inviting Woods for dinner during next month's US Open in Pennsylvania.

"We will have him round every night," said the world No 14. "We will serve fried chicken."

Fried chicken has become a racial stereotype in the United States when referring to African-Americans - a reference to the days before the abolition of slavery when chicken was believed to be a staple part of the diet.

Garcia moved quickly to explain his remark, at first issuing an apology through the European Tour.

The 33-year-old Spaniard then took part in a hastily arranged news conference on the eve of the PGA Championship at Wentworth to underline his regret.

"I want to send an apology," said Garcia. "I didn't want to offend anyone ... I was caught off-guard by the question.

"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. I understand my answer was totally stupid and out of place and ... I can't say sorry enough about that.

"I'd also like to say sorry to the European Tour and to my Ryder Cup teammates for taking the shine away from what was a wonderful dinner that we all thoroughly enjoyed until that moment," said Garcia.

"Finally, and most importantly, I want to apologize to Tiger. I feel sick about it, I'm truly, truly sorry and hope we can kind of settle things down and move on."

Garcia and Woods fell out this month after an incident at the Players Championship in Florida.

The Spaniard blamed a roar from the crowd watching Woods for an errant shot when the two men featured in the same group.

The gallery erupted during Garcia's backswing upon seeing the world No 1 reach for his five-wood for a daring escape from a tee shot that finished deep into the trees.

The pair subsequently made clear they have never been the best of friends, but Garcia said he had already tried to contact Woods in a bid to make amends for his fried chicken remark.

"I don't have Tiger's phone number but I have called his manager," the Spaniard said. "He didn't pick up, but I left a message and told him I was very sorry and I would love to talk to them as soon as possible to make sure everything is OK.

"I told him how sorry I am and that obviously it was a bad comment that shouldn't have been said."

Asked if the incident could somehow bring the two men closer, Garcia replied: "I hope so.

"I'm terribly sorry about what happened and I'm sure we'll be able to talk soon and I will apologize face to face, move forward and forget the whole thing."

Garcia said he had a sleepless night on Tuesday and contemplated pulling out of the Wentworth event.

"My mind is not in the greatest place at the moment, but I feel like the tournament deserves to have me," he said. "I now want to go out there tomorrow and give it everything I have."

Garcia spoke to European Tour chief George O'Grady and his US PGA Tour counterpart Tim Finchem at the awards dinner.

They were very good about it," he said. "They were both fine about it.

"I'm very thankful they were there to help me and be behind me. They both accepted my apology," said Garcia before adding neither had mentioned there would be any form of punishment for his comment.

Garcia's remarks echoed those made by former US Masters winner Fuzzy Zoeller in 1997, when he joked with reporters to tell Woods not to ask for "fried chicken or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve" at the next year's Champions dinner.

Zoeller was subsequently dropped by two sponsors.

Garcia sorry after 'fried chicken' slur

(China Daily 05/24/2013 page22)

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