FOR THE FIRST time since last September, the victorious 2012 European Ryder Cup team were reunited but a joke, made in haste and poor taste, by Sergio Gacria has overshadowed the reunion.
The Spaniard has been the focus of increased media attention since his latest falling out with long-time rival Tiger Woods at The Players’ Championship at Sawgrass. The thin veil of cordiality has been torn down in the past two weeks and both Garcia and Woods have been openly critical of several aspects of each other’s lives, game and personalities.
While both players are now hoping for the story to go away, Garcia’s comments at the European Tour Players’ Awards on Tuesday have kept the feud front and centre.
Asked if he would invite Woods over tour dinner before next month’s US Open, Garcia remarked, “We’ll have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”
The fried chicken remark may be associated with racial stereotypes of African-Americans and is redolent of the comments made by former US Masters winner Fuzzy Zoeller, about Woods, in 1997. Following Woods’ first Masters win that year, Zoeller remarked that fried chicken would be served as the main dish at the traditional winners’ dinner in 1998. Garcia, through the European Tour, was prompt in issuing an apology. It read:
I apologise 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.”
On a night when South African Ernie Els was lauded for his British Open triumph last summer, the final award went to Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman took home the Players’ Player of the Year award went to Rory McIlroy as his peers recognised his achievements of winning USPGA Championship, winning the Race to Dubai, reaching the summit of the world rankings [now occupied by Woods] and topping the US Tour money list.
McIlroy received the award from Luke Donald, the winner of last year’s peer prize.