Keeping Score

The Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia Spat Takes A Racist Turn

At an awards dinner, Sergio Garcia says he'd serve Tiger Woods "fried chicken."

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Julian Finney / Getty Images

Sergio Garcia during the Pro-Am round prior to the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth on May 22, 2013 in Virginia Water, England.

When two golfers trade barbs off the course, it doesn’t exactly scream “raw athletic intensity.” So it’s been easy to ignore the Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia “feud” that has “exploded” these last few weeks.

Until now. Garcia’s latest salvo took a racist turn. At a European Tour awards dinner on Tuesday night, Steve Sands of The Golf Channel asked Garcia, in jest, if he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open. “We will have him round every night,” Garcia said. “We will serve fried chicken.”

Ugh. Garcia’s words echoed Fuzzy Zoeller’s infamous comments about Woods in 1997, which also played on tired racial stereotypes about African-Americans. While Woods, then 21, was crushing the Augusta field that year, Zoeller made reference to a Master’s tradition: the previous year’s winner choosing the menu at the annual Champions dinner. “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year,” Zoeller said. “Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”

(MORE: Watch Sergio Garcia Hit One-Handed Backward Shot From Tee)

Zoeller later apologized, and so did Garcia. Through a statement issued by the European Tour, Garcia said, “I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during The European Tour Players’ Awards dinner. 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.”

This whole thing started at the Players Championship almost two weeks ago. During the third round, Garcia and Woods were paired up. On the second hole, Garcia said Woods pulled out a club during Garcia’s backswing, causing the crowd to make noise and distract him. Woods insisted that a marshal said that Garcia already hit, though a marshal later denied this to Sports Illustrated. “He’s not my favorite guy to play with, he’s not the nicest guy on tour,” Garcia told ESPN after the round. “We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”

“Not real surprising that he’s complaining about something,” Woods said.

The sparring continued this week. At a news conference ahead of the AT&T National, a reporter asked Woods if he would call Garcia to patch things up. “No,” Woods said with a smile. Garcia fired back: “He called me a whiner. That’s probably right. It’s also probably the first thing he’s told you guys that’s true in 15 years. I know what he is like. You guys are finding out.”

And now, the fried chicken remark. If you were hoping the whole Tiger-Sergio thing would just stop already, well, sorry.  The remark, even in jest, shows that racial insensitivity still exists on the tour. Tiger’s race still matters, at least for some people.

The U.S. Open tees off in mid-June. There, Garcia will have some serious explaining to do.

UPDATE: Garcia apologized again on Wednesday, saying:

“I didn’t really sleep at all, I felt my heart was going to come out of my body.”

“My answer was totally stupid and out of place. I feel sick about it.”

On Twitter, Woods wrote:

(MORE: Tiger Woods Is Back To Number One. His Greatest Feat?)

17 comments
snelson1
snelson1

At the end of the day slander is the tool of the loser.  Garcia's comments were wrought with ignorance.  And whether or not Tiger has always been honest with the media is none of my concern.  Who cares?  Nothing that has happened with regard to Tiger's life outside the game of golf has diminished the quality of a man who is the best in the world and I believe will someday be known as the best in the history of the game.  His personal life has no value in the game of golf anymore than Garcia's whining has to do with his game.  If that were the case, Garcia would emerge number one. 

57charlie
57charlie

If there's any finger pointing to be done here, it should be at the media. A non-event occurred during the third round of the PGA Championship two weeks ago that amateur scribes have been relentlessly pursuing and turned it into the current headline. Golf is and always will be a gentlemans game, but the circus of clowns that cover the sport in print, television and internet continue to find ways to give this wonderful game a black eye.

GayleLoveland
GayleLoveland

-----Egads!!! Notify all media sources!! Hang, draw and quarter Garcia for  doing the unforgivable: a supposedly "racist" remark....What if fried chicken really IS Tiger's favorite food? He made an off-the-cuff remark. He apologized. Why the media's ridiculous insistence on groveling??? So hypocritical.................

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

It's GOLF.  It's a bunch of rich guys walking (or riding) around whacking balls with crooked sticks.  How is this important?  I mean, yeah, 10 out of 10 on the completely ridiculous, waste of time scale, but is this something even remotely relevant or even news-worthy for most people?  Really?  There are folks who are THAT concerned about GOLF?

Oh, sorry, gamblers will bet on anything, I suppose.  There are a lot more gamblers than there are golfers.  I suppose that gives it some relevance, if not legitimacy.  

Personally, I think golf is great to watch if counting sheep doesn't put you to sleep.  Why they get so worked up about it is beyond me though.  Maybe that's why this story was printed - golfers displaying some kind of testosterone level.

Who knew?

kcscout59
kcscout59

One of my favorite inspirational speakers (Les Brown) has a saying that applies to this situation perfectly.  "The best revenge is massive success".  Think about what Tiger did in the few years immediately after Fuzzy's remark.  We haven't heard much from Fuzzy since then, have we.  But Tiger has been in the headlines all the time.  As for Sergio, Tiger doesn't need to do anything but continue to kick Sergio's butt on the course in tournament after tournament.  Sergio can whine and throw all the hurtful remarks he wants at Tiger.  They only make Sergio look ugly and pathetic and the loser that he really is.  It's a shame, because in his youth he was one of my favorite golfers due to his passion.  But his repeated demonstrations of poor sportsmanship and now pure ugliness makes Sergio someone I  pity.

IsraeliAndres
IsraeliAndres

I can't help but see an agenda amongst people who think we should just ignore or not pay that much attention when comments like this are made. A major point here is that the remark is based on a stereotype of black people. It was made in 1997 too. So for people who wanna act like people complaining about racism are "race-baiting" or trying to make big deals out of nothing - why don't you get upset then when racial-stereotype remarks are made? If race really doesn't matter that much, why make stereotype-laden remarks that categorize people?

splash
splash

tiger woods is the whiner if he jumps on the bandwagon of accusation at a drop of a pin  

getagripfolks
getagripfolks

The over reaction by the media, as per usual, is ridiculous.  A fried chicken comment made, and that was it?  And it's blown up into an international racist catastrophy?  Please...  Comparing a comment made during a dinner to a comment made during a tournament (Zoeller's), on live TV is assinine.  The ramifications towards Fuzzy Zoeller's comment were extreme, even though he took the fried chicken analogy a step too far with the collard greens quip.  Sergio made a comment about fried chicken.  I love fried chicken.  Maybe Tiger does too.  And everyone who is attacking and exaserbating the Sergio comment, while it was on the inappropriate side, needs to get a grip.  Duh...the two golfers are in the midst of a fued that is being fueled by the media, who seem starved for something to write about and make HUGE frickin deals about anything they can get their hands on.  Tiger is a big boy.  He was thrown racial slurs, ALOT worse than any fried chicken comment, by his father while he was training to become the monumental golfer he has become.  Tiger Woods is the man on the golf course, and that is all there is to it.  Besides...during the whole marital free-for-all Tiger went through, the media printed endless slanderous remarks, printed endless untruths and speculation about the man's personal situation, and all of the above were WAY worse than any fried chicken comment.  Leave it alone and find something worth while to write about.

Peridot827
Peridot827

Garcia = moron.  But, seriously?  Is THAT all he's got?  If I were Tiger, I'd wipe my butt with that comment and keep it moving.  I never even HEARD of Sergio Garcia before this.  He needs to go some where and have a seat.

DonCrouch
DonCrouch

Hey gang, you might want to check out your spelling of the word "shot" on the jump-link re: Sergio's one-handed something....just sayin'.


zaglossus
zaglossus

Golfing was the last major sport to integrate. And sometimes it shows.

JamesL.Giberson
JamesL.Giberson

Garcia should be ripped to shreds for his comments about Tiger, just like Fuzzy was in 97.  Fuzzy lost huge endorsement contracts and was ostracized  by peers and fans alike  Sergio deserves no less, maybe even more due to his recent accusation and condemnations. 

c-strong
c-strong

@GayleLoveland Sorry Gale if you feel Garcia's remarks were funny or ok, support him if you wish that's your right. However, your attempts to dictate what's offensive to others is quite offensive in itself and speaks volumes of your character. Obviously the number of people he has offended seems to be substantial and they will make him the target of their wrath. Continuing on your current course, looks like you'll have a monumental task ahead. Good luck and good day.       

Read more: http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2013/05/22/tiger-woods-sergio-garcia-spat-takes-a-racist-turn/#ixzz2U92j5kDj

VinnieBlair
VinnieBlair

Tiger is the whiner IF...So you are looking for something to hate on Tiger about but you will not conceed that Sergio has been whining his whole career.  Okay we can see your agenda!

masterblaster23
masterblaster23

@getagripfolks you missed the entire point clearly you are one of the countless people out there who thinks racism only exist in the minds of the people who experience it, or better yet ignore it and it will go away, right?  hey since it works so well with blatant racism we should apply the ignore it and it will go away line of thinking to everything it seems pretty effective budget cuts,drone strikes animal cruelty, pollution, and global warming thanks getagripfolks!!!

GayleLoveland
GayleLoveland

@JamesL.Giberson Garcia should be "ripped to shreds" for his comment? You've got waaay too much time on your hands if a comment about someone liking "fried chicken" gets you this upset..........


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