While trying to defend Sergio Garcia for his off-color comment earlier this week, European Tour chief executive George O’Grady made his own controversial remark on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Garcia had created a stir at the European Tour awards dinner by joking that he would serve fried chicken to Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open.
Garcia apologized for the comment and Woods issued a statement, describing the remark as “wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate.” Garcia apologized again in a news conference Wednesday at Wentworth, where he is playing in this week’s BMW PGA Championship.
When discussing the incident on Thursday, O’Grady told Sky Sports: “We know the connotation in the United States. We accept all races on the European Tour; we take it very strongly. Most of Sergio’s friends are colored athletes in the United States, and he is absolutely abject in his apology and we accepted it.”
And just like Garcia a few days ago, O’Grady soon issued a statement to apologize: “I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports for which I unreservedly apologize.”
O’Grady and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, both of whom attended the gala, were criticized in some corners for not taking a harsher stance with Garcia.
“There’s absolutely no coziness about this at all,” O’Grady told Sky Sports. “We take it very seriously as does he. He has convinced us just how seriously he takes it, and that’s why we’ve had to draw a line under this thing. Any hint of this sort of feeling has no place on the European Tour.
“All races play on the European Tour, and that’s how we want to keep it. He is abject in his apology and we are moving on.”