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."

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
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

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all