ARDMORE, Pa. – Sergio Garcia made his way around Merion Golf Club in Tuesday’s U.S. Open practice round with fellow Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano providing a supportive atmosphere.
Olazabal said Garcia has struggled emotionally since he made the controversial “fried chicken” remark about Tiger Woods during a European Tour awards program.
“I saw him at Wentworth the following day, and he was really down,” Olazabal said after Tuesday’s practice round. “He’s still down today. Obviously, he’s still recovering.”
Philadelphia is famous for having some of the most belligerent fans in American sports. Paul Azinger, who is here helping ESPN’s call of the U.S. Open, was asked what kind of week he thought Garcia would have at Merion.
“A tough week, a very long week,” Azinger said. “You’ve got to have the skill to not allow yourself to get crushed over this.”
Olazabal wondered himself about how Garcia would be greeted around Merion on Tuesday, but he was pleased at the reception Garcia received.
“I think the crowds today were actually nice to him,” Olazabal said. “That’s a good sign. Hopefully, it will be like that for the rest of the week.
Garcia apologized the day after he made the remark about Woods. He sought out Woods on Merion’s driving range Monday and shook hands with him. They spoke briefly. Woods said in his news conference Tuesday that Garcia didn’t actually apologize to him in that exchange on the range. Garcia was scheduled to come in late in the afternoon.
“He’s, obviously, really sorry about what happened,” Olazabal said. “He didn’t mean it in any bad way. It’s one of those things, you make mistakes. His apology was sincere, and that’s the most important thing. He’s going to have to go through this period.”