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Sponsor Disavows Garcia Fried Chicken Comment About Tiger Woods

Golfer Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods on the 17th green during the final round of the Players Championship on May 12, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Photographer: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- One of Sergio Garcia’s sponsors said it will review a comment by the Spanish golfer that Tiger Woods called “wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate.”

Woods and Garcia have exchanged verbal jabs through the media since the two were paired during a round earlier this month at the Players championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

TaylorMade-Adidas Golf distanced itself yesterday from Garcia’s comment that he would serve fried chicken to Woods at dinner. Garcia apologized for the comment, which plays on a racial stereotype about American blacks, and Woods said he was hurt by the comment.

“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 on its website. “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 was jokingly asked at the European PGA Tour’s annual awards dinner in England two nights ago if he planned to have dinner with Woods during next month’s U.S. Open.

“We will have him round every night,” Garcia said, according to the Guardian newspaper. “We will serve fried chicken.”

Woods, who is ranked No. 1 in the world and is the first black golfer to win a major championship, responded to Garcia on Twitter yesterday morning.

“The comment that was made wasn’t silly,” Woods wrote. “It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate. 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.”

Garcia Apology

Garcia apologized for the dinner remark in a statement released by the European PGA Tour and again at a televised news conference yesterday morning, saying it wasn’t meant as a racial slur.

“I was caught off guard by the question, but don’t get me wrong, I understand my answer was stupid and out of place,” Garcia said at the BMW PGA Championship in Virginia Water, England, where he’s playing this week. “I can’t say sorry enough about that.”

Garcia said he didn’t have Woods’s phone number and had left a message of apology with Mark Steinberg, the agent for the 14-time major champion.

“Finally, most importantly, I want to apologize to Tiger and anyone I could have offended by the comment I made,” Garcia said. “I feel sick about it and am truly, truly sorry.”

When Woods won the Masters Tournament in 1997, Fuzzy Zoeller, a fellow U.S. PGA Tour pro, said the next year’s champions’ dinner at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia probably would feature fried chicken and collard greens. Zoeller apologized and Woods said he counted Zoeller as his friend.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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