Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Tour chief apologises for 'coloured' remark in wake of Garcia incident

Sergio Garcia of Spain emerges from a meeting in the rules office with George O'Grady at Wentworth

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has issued an apology for using the word "coloured" when defending the decision not to sanction Sergio Garcia for a controversial remark about Tiger Woods.

Garcia yesterday apologised for a comment about world number one Woods at the Tour's annual dinner on Tuesday night which could be construed as racist.

During a Q&A session hosted by the Golf Channel's Steve Sands, Garcia was asked if he would invite Woods to dinner one night during next month's US Open to settle their differences, which resurfaced at the Players Championship this month.

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

The European Tour had been criticised for accepting Garcia's apology and considering the matter closed, but O'Grady has now been forced to apologise himself.

"I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports for which I unreservedly apologise," O'Grady said.

Speaking about not disciplining Garcia, O'Grady had said: "There's absolutely no cosiness about this at all. We take this very seriously as does he.

"He's 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 feeling has no place on the European Tour, all races play on the European Tour and that's how we're going to keep it.

"That's how we want to be.

"Most of Sergio's friends happen to be coloured athletes in the United States, he is absolutely abject in his apology and we accepted it."

In December 2011, BBC pundit Alan Hansen issued an apology for twice using the word "coloured" to describe black footballers on Match of the Day when discussing the John Terry and Luis Suarez racism cases.

Garcia was cheered as he started his first round at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth yesterday, finishing on level par, six off the lead held by South Africa's James Kingston.

Garcia initially issued an apology for his "silly remark" and said he wanted to speak directly to Woods, who wrote on Twitter: "The comment that was made wasn't silly.

"It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate.

"I'm confident that there is real regret the remark was made.

"The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it's long past time to move on and talk about golf."

It remains to be seen if the row will cost the Ryder Cup star financially, with a statement from Garcia's major sponsors TaylorMade-adidas reading: "Sergio Garcia's recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-adidas Golf's values and corporate culture.

"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," the statement concluded.

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