Sergio Garcia’s verbal sparring with Tiger Woods continued Tuesday night in Europe with what could be perceived as a racial reference aimed at the world’s No. 1 player for which the Spaniard later issued an apology.
Garcia, who took issue with Woods for what he viewed as a breach of golf course etiquette during the third round of The Players Championship two weeks ago, was asked in jest at a European Tour function if he would be inviting Woods to dinner during next month’s U.S. Open.
“We’ll have him round every night,” Garcia said, according to multiple media reports. “We will serve fried chicken.”
“Fried chicken” references are associated as racial stereotypes with African-Americans. A similar comment got Fuzzy Zoeller in trouble following the 1997 Masters, when he quipped that fried chicken would be served at the following year’s champions’ dinner, which Woods would host as defending champion.
According to media reports, Garcia left the European Tour awards dinner Tuesday night at the BMW PGA Championship in Virginia Water, England, before he could be questioned. He later issued a statement through the European Tour.
“I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during the European Tour Players’ Awards dinner,” Garcia said. “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.”
The back-and-forth between Garcia and Woods has continued long after the conclusion of the Players, where Woods won his fourth tournament of the year a day after Garcia complained about being distracted on the second hole by the world’s top-ranked player and his playing partner that round.
Their accounts of what happened late were disputed by different marshals on the hole, and neither player has backed down. On Monday, at a media day for the AT&T National in Washington, D.C., Woods was asked if he would reach out to Garcia to clear the air. Woods drew laughter when he simply said: “No.”
Earlier Tuesday, Garcia was again asked about Woods in a news conference at Wentworth, host of the BMW PGA.
“I mean, you can’t like everybody,” Garcia said. “I think that there’s people that you connect with and there’s people that you don’t. You know, it’s pretty much as simple as that. I think that he doesn’t need me in his life, I don’t need him in mine, and let’s move on and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Asked when his issues with Woods began, Garcia said: “A while back. It’s never really been like a true connection like I would have maybe with Luke Donald or Lee Westwood or Adam Scott or some of the other guys that I get along with well.”
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com