Sergio Garcia makes fried chicken joke about Tiger Woods, quickly apologizes
Garcia steps over the line and cracks racially charged joke about the world’s greatest golfer referencing fried chicken.
By Hank Gola / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
It was another bogey for Sergio Garcia in his feud with Tiger Woods Tuesday night and this time, El Nino may have hit one out of bounds by making a racially insensitive remark as he tried to joke about their relationship.
Garcia was onstage at the European Tour’s gala awards dinner at Wentworth in England, where The Golf Channel’s Steve Sands playfully asked him if he planned to host his rival for dinner one night at next month’s U.S. Open.
“We will have him round every night,” Garcia said. “We will serve fried chicken.”
Garcia later issued an apology through the European Tour office.
“I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during The European Tour Players’ Awards dinner,” his statement read. “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.”
The incident revived memories of Fuzzy Zoeller’s botched attempt at humor under the oak tree at Augusta National as Woods was on his way to winning the 1997 Masters. “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken (at the Champions Dinner) next year. Got it?” he asked.
Zoeller even turned back one more time as he was walking away to add, “Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”
Zoeller also apologized at the time and asked that he be forgiven as a “jokester.” After all, Woods had been quoted off the record in a national magazine telling off-color jokes with a racial twist. But Zoeller paid the price. He never again seemed quite the funny man. His sponsorships, including a deal with K-Mart, dried up, and his relationship with the budding star was irrevocably damaged.
That won’t be a problem between Garcia and Woods, whose disdain for each other has never been more obvious since a flare-up during The Players Championship at Sawgrass two weeks ago. Garcia said Woods carelessly created a disturbance in the gallery while Garcia was hitting a shot. The two traded barbs about the incident.
On Monday, Woods was holding a press conference at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., and was asked if he thought about reaching out to Garcia with an olive branch. His answer was succinct and made to break up the room: “No.”
Garcia answered back earlier Tuesday at his pre-tournament press conference at Wentworth.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” he said of Tiger’s one-word answer. “That’s what he’s like. He called me a whiner. He’s probably right. But that’s also probably the first thing he’s told you guys that’s true in 15 years. I know what he’s like. You guys are finding out.”
That’s when Garcia was asked if he would consider calling Woods to smooth things over. “First of all, I don’t have his number,” he said. “And secondly, I did nothing wrong and don’t have anything to say to him. And he wouldn’t pick up the phone anyway. But that’s OK. I don’t need him as a friend. I don’t need him in my life to be happy and that’s fine. It’s as simple as that. Like I have always said, I try to be as truthful as possible. Tiger doesn’t make a difference to my life. And I know that I don’t make a difference to his life.”
Had he left it at that, Garcia may have earned points for his candor as opposed to the secretive Woods. It just took one more question at the wrong time to get him into trouble again.