Sergio Garcia has reiterated his desire to apologise in person to Tiger Woods after European Tour chief executive George O’Grady unwittingly reopened the racism row which has overshadowed the BMW PGA Championship.
O’Grady issued an apology yesterday for using the word “coloured” when defending the decision not to sanction Garcia for his own remark about serving Woods “fried chicken” during the Tour’s annual awards dinner on Tuesday night.
The Tour had been criticised for accepting Garcia’s subsequent apology and considering the matter closed, but O’Grady was forced to apologise himself after a live TV interview during the opening round at Wentworth.
“I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports for which I unreservedly apologise,” a statement from O’Grady read.
Speaking to Sky Sports 1 about not disciplining Garcia, O’Grady had said: “There’s absolutely no cosiness about this at all. We take this very seriously, as does he. He’s convinced us just how seriously he takes it and that’s why we’ve had to draw a line under this thing.
“Any hint of this feeling has no place on the European Tour, all races play on the European Tour and that’s how we’re going to keep it. That’s how we want to be.
“Most of Sergio’s friends happen to be coloured athletes in the United States, he is absolutely abject in his apology and we accepted it.”
Garcia, who was made aware of O’Grady’s comments after completing an opening round of 72 with an eagle at the 18th, said: “We talked to Mark Steinberg (Woods’ agent) and he said they are moving forward. If I manage to speak to him, perfect; if not I will definitely see him at the US Open and we can talk face-to-face.”
So far the only response from Woods came on Twitter on Wednesday. “The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate,” Woods wrote.
“I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.”
It remains to be seen if the row will cost the Ryder Cup star financially, with Garcia’s major sponsors TaylorMade-adidas describing his comment as “offensive” and adding that the matter was still under review.