After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke

Sponsors join condemnation of Spaniard, who issues full apology to Tiger after 'totally stupid' racist remark

Wentworth

Sergio Garcia was battling desperately to save his reputation last night after a racist remark aimed at Tiger Woods triggered outrage and disgust throughout golf.

A repentant Garcia, 33, issued an apology to Woods, his fellow professionals and the European Tour after the ill-judged joke at an awards dinner in London, when he offered to serve Woods fried chicken for dinner.

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.

"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."

Garcia said: "I was caught off guard by the question ['What night will you be inviting Tiger around for dinner?' Answer: 'Every night, we will give him fried chicken']. But don't get me wrong. I understand that my answer was totally stupid and out of place. I can't say sorry enough about that.

"Most importantly, I want to apologise to Tiger, and anybody that I could have offended. I feel sick about it. I'm truly, truly sorry. I called Mark Steinberg, his manager. He didn't pick up but I left him a message and told him that I was very sorry and that I would love to talk to them as soon as possible and make sure everything is OK. It was a bad comment and shouldn't have been said. I will apologise to him face to face."

Woods issued his own condemnation via his Twitter account: "The comment that was made wasn't silly," Woods wrote. "It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate. I'm confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. The Players [Championship] ended nearly two weeks ago and it's long past time to move on and talk about golf."

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."

Garcia was grateful for that. "They felt very strongly about it. I'm very thankful that they were there to obviously help and be behind me. They both accepted my apologies."

For Garcia's fellow players the episode was hugely embarrassing. Rory McIlroy, who sat alongside Garcia with the rest of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team, recoiled behind a nervous laugh when the insult spilt forth. "I was sitting on the sofa at the front and sort of glanced back and was like 'eech'. I think he really does regret what he said and is truly sorry for it."

Justin Rose was peeping through his fingers. "As soon as he said it there were nervous giggles. It was a Stevie Williams-type moment. I'm sure he regrets it. It's going to be up to Tiger and Sergio how quickly it goes away."

Luke Donald, Garcia's closest friend on tour, said: "He had a lot of regret and wished it hadn't happened. I don't think he even meant to say it in a way. It just came out."

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
fashion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes