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Sunday, 18 August 2013
GARCIAGATE ALMOST DROVE EUROPEAN TOUR CHIEF TO QUIT
George O’Grady and Sergio
Garcia, Picture by USA Today
TOUR chief executive George O’Grady threatened to resign in the wake of
Grey Areas can reveal that O’Grady had to be talked out of quitting after
becoming embroiled in the race-related controversy that followed Sergio
Garcia’s ill-judged comment concerning Tiger Woods.
33-year-old Spaniard created a furore when he took his long-year feud with
Woods to a new low during an interview during the European Tour players’ dinner
on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May.
asked if he would invite Woods to dinner during the upcoming U.S. Open, Garcia
replied: “I will have him over for dinner every night and we will serve him
remark caused outrage and forced the shame-faced Garcia to issue not one but
two public apologies.
comment evoked memories of Fuzzy Zoeller’s equally inappropriate remark after Woods
had won the Masters in 1997.
- a past champion – caused an outcry when he commented that he hoped Woods
would not order fried chicken for the traditional champions’ dinner where the
menu is chosen by the holder of the green jacket.
recently claimed that his remark was a “joke gone bad”, while Garcia pleaded
Garcia was totally stupid at best, if not deliberately racist, and the fact
that he escaped with little more than a public slap on the wrist caused further
the racism row took another ugly turn when O’Grady was forced to apologise for
using inappropriate language during a television interview.
O’Grady was trying to defend Garcia’s apology to Woods when he sparked a fresh
of Sergio Garcia’s friends are coloured athletes in the United States,” he
said, and barely had the words been uttered by the 64-year-old than the
groups including Show Racism The Red Card pilloried O’Grady for his faux pas on
Sky and there were calls for O’Grady’s head.
who heads a staff of 155 at European Tour headquarters at Wentworth, moved
quickly and issued an immediate apology for his racially hurtful terminology.
said: “I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky
Sports for which I unreservedly apologise.”
that was not enough to satisfy some of O’Grady’s critics and the continuing
fall out left the popular golf boss considering his position after 39 years
with the European Tour, which has gone from strength-to-strength under his
insider and close confidant of O’Grady told me: “George was very badly hurt and
shocked by the reaction to what was an unfortunate and wholly unintended slip
of the tongue.
who knows him will be aware that George does not have a racist bone in his body
and some of those who were quick to condemn him should know better.
gave serious consideration to his position, but, fortunately his closest
colleagues rallied round him and he was persuaded against resigning.”
wishing to be an apologist for O’Grady, if he was guilty of idiocy it was born
of a generational use of the words “coloured” and “black” rather than malice
is not so long ago that it was taboo in newspapers to describe a black athlete
as “black” rather than “coloured.”
was left to Colin Montgomerie – certainly no stranger to controversy himself –
to urge the golf world to draw a line under Garciagate.
said: “It’s a mountain out of molehill. Christ, we’re all frightened to say
anything – we’re scared to open our mouths in case we say something that isn’t
kosher in 2013.
should tell us what to say because no one is quite sure what is right and
says coloured, somebody says black, but who is to say who is right and who is