Tiger on Sergio: We didn't talk
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Tiger Woods, trying his best to move on from the controversy with Sergio Garcia, said that there hasn't been time for an apology for the Spanish star's "fried chicken'' comments from three weeks ago.
Woods, speaking Tuesday at a news conference at Merion Golf Club in advance of the 113th U.S. Open, referenced their Monday handshake on the driving range in which it was believed Garcia attempted to set up another time to talk.
"No, we didn't discuss anything. Just came up and said, 'Hi,' and that was it," Woods said.
Asked if Garcia apologized, Woods said: "It's already done. We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open and we tee it up in two days."
Woods clarified later that Garcia did not apologize yet, saying "we haven't had time for that."
Garcia met with the media later and confirmed that there wasn't the proper time, although he left Woods a handwritten note and apologized again for the incident, which took place last month at a European Tour function.
Garcia was jokingly asked on May 21 if he would be having dinner with Woods this week at the U.S. Open. In an attempt at humor, Garcia said: "We'll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken."
Such references are viewed as a racial stereotype, and Woods did not take kindly to the remarks, saying on Twitter that they were "wrong, hurtful and inappropriate."
But since then, at both the Memorial Tournament and again Tuesday at Merion, Woods sought to move on -- and Garcia concurred.
"Hopefully he can take a look at it [the note] and, you know, it's a big week and I understand that it's difficult to meet up and stuff," Garcia said. "So hopefully I'll be able to do it. If not, at least he has read the note and he's happy with that."
Garcia declined to reveal the contents of the note, saying that was up to Woods if he wanted to disclose it. At his earlier news conference, Woods made no mention of a note, although both players appear to not have been at Merion during the same time Tuesday.
"First I saw him was on the range," Garcia said of their Monday meeting. "I felt like it wasn't the appropriate place to, for me to, out of respect to him and to the other players to do it there. So I was hoping to see him afterwards.
It's already done. We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open, and we tee it up in two days.” -- Tiger Woods on whether he has received an apology from Sergio Garcia
"Unfortunately, when I got done practicing, he was gone already, so I couldn't see him. And this morning he wasn't here. But like he said, he thinks he considers the matter closed. He's moved on. And I'm happy that he feels that way, so hopefully we can do the same thing."
Garcia and Woods were at the center of controversy five weeks ago at the Players Championship, where they were paired together in the third round. A seemingly innocent move to take a club from his bag on the second hole erupted into a days-long back-and-forth saga between the two players. Garcia felt Woods showed poor form by pulling the club -- which caused crowd noise -- when he did; Woods felt he did nothing wrong.
And when Garcia let it be known he didn't like Woods and that the two have been at odds for years, the story only escalated.
But it took on a far more serious tone when Garcia made his "fried chicken" reference two days prior to the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship. He said the situation remains a distraction that has been difficult to overcome.
"It obviously doesn't help, but it is my own fault," Garcia said. "So I don't have anyone to blame other than myself. We'll see. Like I said, the people made me feel very good out there, the last couple of days, so hopefully that will continue throughout the week."
Garcia, 33, has eight PGA Tour victories and another 15 worldwide wins but has never won a major championship. He has played in 55 consecutive major championships dating to 1999, with just two top-5s in the U.S. Open.
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"I think it will be fantastic," Woods said. "I was part of that the first time they did it in '08. And it was very electric out there. I know they've done it a few more times. It's not very often we get 1, 2 and 3 in one group and 4, 5, 6 in another.
"For me it's been fantastic. Normally we don't get those types of pairings very often. When you do, it just makes it that much more enjoyable for us as players."
Woods, however, is coming off one of the worst performances of his professional career, at least in terms of a 72-hole event. He tied for 65th at the Memorial -- a tournament he has won five times -- that included a third-round 79.
It was surprising given his record at Muirfield Village as well as his strong play this year. Woods had won three of his previous four events and tied for fourth at the Masters.
"I didn't play well," he said. "I didn't putt well. I didn't really do much that I was real pleased about. But it was just one of those weeks. It happens. And move on from there.
"I had a good week of practice last week at home (in Florida). We had a tropical storm roll through there, I guess it was getting us ready for this one."
Woods said he was pleased he came to Merion two weeks ago and played in the rain because it helped him prepare for this week. The course has received more than 5.3 inches of rain since Friday.
"When I came up on Tuesday of Memorial, it was rainy, the ball wasn't flying very far and I'm hitting the ball in the same spots now, because obviously it's rainy and soft," he said.
The U.S. Open, back at Merion Golf Club for the first time since 1981, will play short. But don't expect it to be easy.