Sergio Garcia can’t apologize enough for the racist crack he made at Tiger Woods’ expense last month. But even after trying in vain to offer a face-to-face mea culpa to his arch foe, the former El Nino just could not cough up any warm fuzzies about the game’s top-ranked golfer.
“Don’t get me wrong, I respect Tiger very much. I think he’s a wonderful player,” Garcia, who was reduced to leaving a handwritten apology letter in Woods’ locker at Merion after apparently even a GPS would have failed to locate the offended party at the site of this week’s U.S. Open.
“He’s No. 1 in the world for some reasons,” Garcia continued, at an obvious loss for how to respond to whether his hostile feelings for Woods had changed over the ensuing weeks since the Spaniard offered to serve his opponent fried chicken should the two dine together between Open rounds. “He shows that and I respect him very much and, hopefully, like he said, we can move forward and see where things end up.”
In defense of Garcia’s unsuccessful search for Tiger, the logistics of navigating the grounds of Merion Golf Club -- even without the flooding from continual downpours -- are not exactly without challenges. Players have to hop on shuttles to get from the driving range, on the West Coast, to their lockers, on the East Course.
Even so, could it be that Tiger, who said earlier in the day he had left the situation with Sergio in his rear-view, was just messing with his would-be rival’s psyche, two days ahead of the men’s second major of the season? After all, Garcia, who initiated a handshake with Woods a day earlier on the practice range, contended he just wanted to apologize personally for his racially insensitive fried chicken jibe and get on with his life.
Failing that -- “I was hoping to meet him after the round [yesterday] but he was gone,” he said -- Garcia decided to drop off his note of apology. “Out of respect” for the 14-time major champ and the other golfers competing in suburban Philadelphia, Garcia declined to mutter, “I’m sorry” when the two met briefly on the range on Monday. “I felt like it wasn’t an appropriate place,” he said.
“Hopefully he can take a look at [the letter] and, you know, it’s a big week and I understand that it’s difficult to meet up and stuff,” said Garcia, who related that it was up to Woods to disclose the contents of the missive. “So hopefully I’ll be able to do it. If not, at least he has read the note and he’s happy with that.”
Garcia, who conceded he has worried about the situation since he uttered his ill-advised crack at a European Tour dinner, also declined to reveal whether his primary sponsor, TaylorMade, had taken any disciplinary action after issuing an official reprimand shortly after the incident.
While the two parties directly affected by the flap claimed they just wanted to move forward, who’s not rooting for a Tiger-Sergio twosome bringing up the rear in Sunday’s finale? With all the bad karma surrounding Garcia, of course, it remains to be seen if he can overcome the obvious distraction to focus on the task at hand.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Garcia said about whether he would be able to contend this week. “It obviously doesn’t help but it’s my own fault so I don’t have anyone to blame other than myself.”
With that, we believe, Tiger would heartily concur.