Former European Ryder Cup captain and two-time major champion Jose Maria Olazabal believes Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia need to end their feud.
“I’m close to Sergio and to Tiger and I don’t know what happened for them to drift apart,” Olazabal said in an interview with Reuters at this week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth in England.
“I know people are trying to make a big thing out of it but we are grown men, we can handle things and I’m pretty sure in time everything will settle down, they will shake hands and be friends again.”
Garcia apologized publicly to Woods on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning for a racial epithet he used in response to a question at the European Tour’s annual player awards dinner. Asked if he would be having dinner with Woods at next month’s U.S. Open, Garcia said, ”We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”
Alluding to fried chicken is considered a racial comment in the United States, dating back to the days of slavery and then segregation.
For his part, Woods said the comments were “wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate,” but also urged the golf world to focus again on what’s happening on the course.
Garcia said Wednesday he has reached out to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, to arrange for the two to speak in person so Garcia can apologize.
Olazabal, however, anticipates that even a face-to-face apology will not quell the situation in the court of public opinion.
“It’s one of those issues that’s not nice to see,” Olazabal said, “and we will have to live with it for the next few months I guess.”