Sergio Garcia may not receive a fine, suspension, or any other type of discipline from the European and PGA Tours, but the financial and other ramifications for the Spanish golfer’s racially insensitive remarks could be punitive.
Garcia, who apologized on Wednesday to the tours, Woods, and “anybody I could have offended” by his fried chicken comment has already heard from his primary sponsor, TaylorMade-Adidas, which distanced itself from the embattled player.
“Sergio Garcia’s recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-Adidas 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.”
Garcia said during a Wednesday press conference broadcast live on Golf Channel that his joke during a Tuesday night Euro Tour gala event that he would serve Woods fried chicken for dinner during next month’s U.S. Open was “stupid and out of place.”
Garcia said he met with officials from both tours, who had accepted his apology and would not mete out any punishment for his inflammatory remark.
“As soon as I left the dinner, I started getting a sick feeling in my body,” Garcia told reporters gathered for this week’s BMW PGA Championship in England. “I didn’t really sleep at all last night. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my body. I had this sick feeling all day.”
Chances are, that queasy feeling won’t go away soon for the eight-time PGA Tour winner, whom Woods earlier chastised via Twitter.
“Maybe the most important half hour or 45 minutes coming up in his life really, never mind his career,” Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte said prior to Garcia’s presser. “He’s not going to turn it around, he’s not going to walk away from this....This is going to hurt. I don’t know if it’s a ‘death sentence’ but it's something that lingers with you forever.”
The repercussions of Garcia’s remark are likely to be widespread. GC Morning Drive co-host Damon Hack, said during an extended episode of the program that Garcia would have to answer for his incendiary remarks for some time.
“Sergio is going to have a lot of apologies to make going forward, to Tiger, he’s going to have to answer a lot of questions from reporters,” Hack said after Garcia’s presser. “He’s going to have to pay the price for the next year, next five years, next 10, we don’t know. It will all be how Sergio handles his behavior going forward.”
Hack, an African American sportswriter who’s worked for Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, said Garcia’s racially tinged remarks changed everything.
“It’s going to be hard for me to get past this,” Hack said. "Previous to this, I’ve a had great relationships with Sergio....He’s looked me in the eye and shaken my hand...but this is something that I have to add to the calculus in my view of Sergio.
“This is a hurtful comment...this stings me and it hurts me and I'm sad for Sergio, I’m sad for Tiger, I’m sad for the game of golf that we have to even talk about this,” Hack stated. "But no question the next time I look across from Sergio, will this cross my mind? Absolutely it will.”
Hack added that Garcia would have to deal with repercussions of his remark for some time to come.
“This was a huge mistake. It was brewing, it was growing over the last 10 days to two weeks," Hack said, referring to the escalating war of words between Woods and Garcia that began at The Players Championship. "Now he finds himself in a sticky wicket that he’s going to take a long time extricating himself from.”