x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Golf: Tiger Woods seeks to move on from Sergio Garcia spat

World No 1 wants to put controversy surrounding Spaniard's racially-tinged comments behind him and 'talk abot golf'.

Tiger Woods has never had the best of equations with Sergio Garcia. Jay LaPrete / AP Photo
Tiger Woods has never had the best of equations with Sergio Garcia. Jay LaPrete / AP Photo

Tiger Woods said on Wednesday he has not spoken to Sergio Garcia and has no plans to do so a week after the golfers got into a spat that was sparked by racially-tinged comments from the Spaniard.

Speaking at the Memorial Tournament, Woods said he does not expect to broach the subject when the two compete at the US Open in two weeks' time.

"That's already done with," said Woods, the world No 1, the day before he tees it up to try and defend his title at the Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Garcia got himself into trouble during a dinner in England when he attempted a joke in which he quipped about spending time with Woods at the US Open.

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

The Spaniard's remarks drew comparisons with a controversy in the late 1990s in which Fuzzy Zoeller, the former PGA golfer, was accused of racism after suggesting that Woods would serve "fried chicken" at a Masters champions dinner.

The Spaniard later apologised at a news conference and was clearly embarrassed by the furore he had caused.

His comments came on the back of an earlier clash with Woods in the third round of the Players Championship earlier this month - the latest in a line of disagreements between the two players over the last decade.

At the Players the two were grouped together and locked in a tight battle when Garcia said he was distracted by crowd noise after Woods pulled a club out of his bag, in what he said was deliberate gamesmanship from the American.

The two players have rarely seen eye to eye and Garcia tried to explain his position last week in England.

"You can't like everybody. He doesn't need me in his life and I don't need him in mine. Let's move on and keep doing what we are doing."

Woods had tweeted in response to the "fried chicken" remarks: "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate ... it's long past time to move on and talk about golf."

Jack Nicklaus, host of the Memorial Tournament, weighed in on the topic on Wednesday, calling the incident "stupid" and taking a shot at the media for keeping the row going.

"Nobody needs that. And I think both finally said it's enough. Let's move on," the 18-time major winner said.

Dealing with racial stereotypes is nothing new to Woods.

"Well, I live with it," he said Wednesday. "It's happened my entire career. It exists all around the world, not just in the sport of golf.

"I know a lot of people are trying to make a difference and trying to make it more fair for all of us."

Woods, who has already won four times this year, returns to defend his title at Muirfield Village which he will use as a tuneup for the US Open.

The 14-time major winner is off to one of his best starts to a season in his career and is hoping that some of his past success at the Memorial propels him another victory.

He is aiming for his third win at the Memorial in the past five years and his sixth victory overall in the event.

Last year, he birdied three of his last four holes, including holing a memorable 50-foot chip shot at the 16th, to claim a two-shot victory.

Defending the title, however, will not be easy as 17 of the world's top 25 players are in the field this week.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE