Sergio Garcia faced questions from the media on Wednesday morning after racial comments he made about Tiger Woods on Tuesday night at the European Tour's awards dinner in England.
Garcia was asked by emcee Steve Sands of Golf Channel if he and Woods would have dinner at the U.S. Open next month to make up for their verbal spatting that began at The Players Championship. The Spaniard responded by saying, ”We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”
At a news conference, Garcia apologized, saying, "I didn't mean to offend anyone. I obviously was kind of going by the question, but don't get me wrong, I understand that my answer was totally stupid and out of place. I can't say sorry enough about that."
He then extended an apology to those at the dinner before finally speaking about Woods.
"I'd also like to say sorry to the European Tour and my European Ryder Cup teammates in taking the shine away from what was a wonderful player awards dinner that we all thoroughly enjoyed until that moment," he said. "Finally, and most importantly, I want to apologize to Tiger and to anybody that I could have offended by the comment I made. I just want to say that I feel sick about it. I'm truly, truly sorry."
Garcia also said he reached out to Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, hoping to arrange a conversation with Woods to apologize in person.
The reference to fried chicken is considered a racial epithet. A similar allusion was made by Fuzzy Zoeller as Woods was winning the 1997 Masters in record-setting fashion. Garcia said he was unaware of Zoeller's infamous remarks, including references to fried chicken and collard greens, before this incident, saying he was on 17 years old at the time they were made.
The Spaniard reiterated he did not intend for the comment to come across as racist.
"It wasn't meant that way (to be racist)," Garcia said. "I was caught off guard with what seemed to be a funny question, and I wanted to come up with a funny answer that was totally wrong."
Garcia said he knew within moments after the dinner ended that he had said something wrong.
"As soon as I left the dinner, I started getting a sick feeling in my body," he said. "I didn't really sleep last night. I thought my heart was going to come out of my body. It's difficult to hit a shot without thinking about it. Unfortunately, I said it. I wish I didn't do it, but all I can do is say I was sorry."
According to Garcia, neither the European Tour nor the PGA Tour will suspend or fine him for his comments.
"They (PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour chief executive George O'Grady) were very good about it. They were both at the dinner and saw exactly what happened," Garcia said. "They were both fine with it. ... They both accepted my apology."
Asked if he considered withdrawing from the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship event, Garcia said he will play on this week.
"I think the tournament deserves to have me," he said. "The tournament has nothing to do with it. It was all on me. I want to go out there tomorrow and Friday and give everything I have."