Garcia should've known better before making remarks

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2013, 4:21 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – He should have known better.

Contempt toward a co-worker is one thing, but racial insensitivity is where a vaguely entertaining feud lurches into a much darker place.

Among the words in modern lexicon that don’t wash off is “racist.” Whether Sergio Garcia deserves that label is a question of individual sensitivities, whether he should have known better is not.

During a black-tie gala on Tuesday in London, Garcia was asked by Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, who was emceeing the event, if he planned to invite Tiger Woods over for dinner during next month’s U.S. Open.

“We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken,” Garcia said.

The Spaniard quickly issued a statement regarding the comment that felt more like a non-apology: “I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during the European Tour Players’ Awards dinner. I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark, but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner.”

For those who thought the war of words between Garcia and Woods reached its apex at The Players Championship, the world No. 1 pulled no punches with his response to Garcia’s comments, if not his sterile mea culpa.

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

Almost always emotional and honest, Garcia seemed much more contrite on Wednesday during a press conference at the BMW PGA Championship. Know this about the Spaniard, he has no editing equipment during the best of circumstances. Put him under the lights with the world watching and there is no such thing as an unspoken thought.

Garcia said he knew immediately that he’d crossed the line with his comments and that he had tried to reach out to Woods to apologize personally via his manager, Mark Steinberg.

“It wasn’t meant that way (racist). I was caught off guard by what seemed to be a funny question. I cannot apologize enough times,” Garcia said. “As soon as I left the dinner I started to get a sick feeling in my body. I didn’t sleep very well. I’ve had this sick feeling all day.”

By most accounts Garcia’s apology appeared from the heart and genuine, not that words could ever absolve him of culpability. But it’s Garcia’s inability to acknowledge the fact that, in 2013, he should have known better that is the most baffling.

As one player figured early Wednesday at Colonial, “Of course he knew (his comments were offensive), Fuzzy (Zoeller) made that crystal clear a long time ago.”

Zoeller made his comments following Woods’ historic 1997 Masters victory and never fully recovered, either financially or with the fans. When asked to compare his situation to Zoeller’s, however, Garcia seemed strangely unfamiliar with the episode that rocked the golf world and beyond.

“I didn’t know about that. I was made aware of it today. I was 17 years old and really didn’t know about it,” Garcia said.

While the notion that many 17 year olds are indifferent to life’s realities is plausible, Garcia was no normal 17 year old. Two years after Zoeller’s remarks, the young Spaniard went head-to-head with Woods at the PGA Championship and was quickly labeled Tiger’s next great challenger.

Maybe he didn’t know about Zoeller’s comments, but he should have.

Following that moment at Medinah, Woods and Garcia’s relationship, what little there was of it, began to deteriorate until coming to a head two weeks ago at The Players when Woods pulled the head cover off a fairway wood in the trees adjacent the second fairway and the lid off a smoldering hatred that now seems to have gone well beyond a simple personality conflict.

The he said/he said give and take between the two since Saturday at TPC Sawgrass seemed harmless enough until Garcia’s utter distaste of the world No. 1 became ugly and inexcusable.

“I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I was caught off guard by the question. I can’t say sorry enough,” he said.

No, he can’t apologize enough for what he said or for the fact that he should have known better.

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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

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Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

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McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

“I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

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McIlroy remembers Arnie dinner: He liked A-1 sauce on fish

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 1:06 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Fresh off a stirring victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy offered a pair of culinary factoids about two of the game’s biggest names.

McIlroy regretted not being able to shake Palmer’s hand behind the 18th green after capping a three-shot win with a Sunday 64, but with the trophy in hand he reflected back on a meal he shared with Palmer at Bay Hill back in 2015, the year before Palmer passed away.

“I knew that he liked A-1 sauce on his fish, which was quite strange,” McIlroy said. “I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A-1 sauce?’ And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ He said, ‘No, for me.’”

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A few minutes later, McIlroy revealed that he is also a frequent diner at The Woods Jupiter, the South Florida restaurant launched by Tiger Woods. In fact, McIlroy explained that he goes to the restaurant every Wednesday with his parents – that is, when he’s not spanning the globe winning golf tournaments.

Having surveyed the menu a few times, he considers himself a fan.

“It’s good. He seems pretty hands-on with it,” McIlroy said. “Tuna wontons are good, the lamb lollipops are good. I recommend it.”

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DeChambeau comes up short: 'Hat’s off to Rory'

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 12:48 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amid a leaderboard chock full of big names and major winners, the person that came closest to catching Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational turned out to by Bryson DeChambeau.

While Henrik Stenson faltered and Justin Rose stalled out, it was DeChambeau that gave chase to McIlroy coming down the stretch at Bay Hill. Birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 were followed by an eagle out of the rough on No. 16, which brought him to within one shot of the lead.

But as DeChambeau surveyed his birdie putt from the fringe on the penultimate hole, McIlroy put an effective end to the proceedings with a closing birdie of his own to polish off a round of 64. DeChambeau needed a hole-out eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff, and instead made bogey.

That bogey ultimately didn’t have an effect on the final standings, as DeChambeau finished alone in second place at 15 under, three shots behind McIlroy after shooting a 4-under 68.

“I thought 15 under for sure would win today,” DeChambeau said. “Rory obviously played some incredible golf. I don’t know what he did on the last nine, but it was deep. I know that.”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

DeChambeau will collect $961,000 for his performance this week in Orlando, just $47,000 less than he got for winning the John Deere Classic in July. While he would have preferred to take McIlroy’s spot in the winner’s circle, DeChambeau was pleased with his effort in Sunday’s final pairing as he sets his sights on a return to the Masters.

“For him to shoot 64 in the final round, that’s just, hat’s off to him, literally. I can’t do anything about that,” DeChambeau said. “I played some great golf, had some great up-and-downs, made a couple key putts coming down the stretch, and there’s not really much more I can do about it. My hat’s off to Rory, and he played fantastic.”