• European Tour

Tour chief inflames Garcia saga with 'coloured' remark

ESPN staff
May 23, 2013
George O'Grady and Sergio Garcia discussed his case on Wednesday © Getty Images

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has managed to accentuate the ongoing race controversy surrounding Sergio Garcia by insisting that many of the Spaniard's best friends are "coloured athletes".

Garcia was forced to apologise on Wednesday after making an ill-considered joke about Tiger Woods involving "fried chicken", a remark that was perceived in some quarters to contain racial undertones - although Garcia strongly denied any such intention.

Woods, upon hearing the comments, said they were "clearly inappropriate" and "hurtful".

Garcia and the European Tour were hoping to draw a line under the unsavoury saga on Thursday as the BMW PGA Championship got underway at Wentworth. However, O'Grady's comment about "coloured athletes" - considered a racially insensitive term - has ensured that will now not be the case.

"It's very unfortunate and we are in the middle of it, but we made a statement that both together with commissioner Tim Fincham from the PGA Tour we spoke to Sergio and after what was really a very full and frank discussion on the whole issue that we'd 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 on Sky Sports.

How the Garcia-Woods feud escalated

Sergio Garcia is in hot water © Getty Images

"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 coloured athletes in the United States and he is absolutely abject in his apology and we accepted it."

O'Grady later apologised for his use of words, saying in a short statement: "I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports for which I unreservedly apologise."

Garcia is unlikely to be punished by either the PGA or European tours for his misconduct, O'Grady confirmed - although he stressed that both organisations have taken a dim view of his recent conduct in relation to the world No. 1.

"There is no need for any further disciplinary action because it has gone so deep with him and all our players think the same way," he said. "We are aware of his arguments and his discussion with Tiger Woods which really quite frankly has no real place either, he accepts that.

"Tiger himself has made remarks. He's said it's time to get on and play golf and we want to get on with our flagship event which is set up so well this week.

"There's absolutely no cosiness about this at all. We take it very seriously as does he. He has 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 sort of feeling has no place on the European Tour.

"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."

Garcia has faced a backlash for his comments, with his major sponsor - TaylorMade - admitting on Wednesday that they are reviewing their association with the player.

"Sergio Garcia's recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade Golf's values and corporate culture,' the company said in a statement. "We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere.

"We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.