Little could be done to make the situation worse after Sergio Garcia went way over the line in his feud with Tiger Woods this week, but a European golf tour official has found that little and done it.
Garcia drew swift and heavy criticism this week when his tit-for-tat with Woods turned ugly. Garcia, talking about the upcoming U.S. Open, joked that he would invite Woods over for “fried chicken” every night. Woods and others quickly condemned the remark.
On Thursday, European Tour CEO George O’Grady tried to smooth the waters by sticking up for Garcia. In the process, though, he managed to commit several more major race-oriented snafus.
“We spoke to Sergio and, after what was really a very full and frank discussion on the whole issue, decided to accept his really heartfelt apology, and we were convinced that he was trying to be funny, that it was a lighthearted remark,” O’Grady said, according to The Daily Mail. “We know the connotation in the United States. We accept all races on the European Tour. We take it very strongly.
“Most of Sergio’s friends are colored athletes in the United States, and he is absolutely abject in his apology, and we accepted it. … All races play on the European Tour, and that’s how we want to keep it. He is abject in his apology and we are moving on.”
For those keeping score at home, that statement — which was supposed to make things better — included: (1) Use of the word “colored,” which is not only obsolete and derogatory but also just out of place (2) The old “he’s friends with those other people, so we know he didn’t mean anything by it” defense, which is inexplicably distasteful and irrelevant (3) The mention of “races” and including “all races” in a situation where no one even thinks about race anymore — or thinks that they need to say all races are welcome — until someone makes a racist remark.
O’Grady soon realized he was out of line and issued an apology for using the word “colored,” but if this all has taught anyone anything, it’s that perhaps Garcia’s foot-in-mouth for an obviously off-base remark was the least of the problems golf is facing in this area.