European Tour chief O'Grady apologises for 'coloured' remark

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has apologised for using the racially insensitive word "coloured" in an interview defending Sergio Garcia.

O'Grady described many of Garcia's friends as being "coloured athletes".

His remarks came as he tried to mitigate the Spaniard's "fried chicken" comment about Tiger Woods.

A remorseful O'Grady said: "I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports, for which I unreservedly apologise."

At the European Tour's annual dinner on Tuesday, 33-year-old Garcia had joked he would ask Woods for dinner to settle a recent spat and serve him fried chicken, which is stereotypically associated with black people in the American deep south.

On Wednesday, Garcia apologised for his comment about the world number one, who said the remark was "wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate".

When asked on Thursday about O'Grady's comments, the Spaniard described them as "unfortunate".

He also confirmed contact had been made with Woods's manager Mark Steinberg, but not with the former world number one himself.

"If I manage to speak with Tiger, it will be perfect," said Garcia. "If not, I will definitely see him at the US Open and we can talk face to face."

George O'Grady factfile

  • Born 14 April 1949 in Singapore to Irish parents
  • Began playing golf aged 10 and played his first round as a junior member of Royal Portrush
  • Started his career in golf in 1974 when he joined the British PGA as a tournament administrator
  • Became chief executive of the European Tour on 1 January 2005
  • Appointed CBE for services to sport in 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours

O'Grady, who was photographed alongside Garcia after the initial controversy broke, was forced to defend his organisation's decision to take no further action against the player.

"There's absolutely no cosiness about this at all," he told Sky Sports on Thursday.

"We take this very seriously, as does he. He's convinced us just how seriously he takes it and that's why we've had to draw a line under this thing.

"Any hint of this feeling has no place on the European Tour, all races play on the European Tour and that's how we're going to keep it.

"He is abject in his apology and we have accepted it. We are moving on."

Garcia's biggest sponsor, TaylorMade-adidas, is considering its position with the player in the wake of the race row.

TaylorMade-adidas said: "We discussed with him that his comments are clearly out of bounds. We are continuing to review the matter.

Analysis

"Sergio Garcia's crack that he would serve Tiger Woods "fried chicken" meant that one of golf's top stars was prepared to use racial stereotyping to gain a laugh.

"The Spaniard strayed into an area where there has to be zero tolerance. Top golfers aren't mere sportsmen; they are global figures representing their countries, sponsors and the game at large."

"Sergio's recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-adidas Golf's values and corporate culture.

"We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere."

Woods and Garcia have been involved in a row since The Players Championship in the United States earlier this month, when Garcia accused the world number one of gamesmanship.

The American angered Garcia during the third round of the tournament at Sawgrass by preparing for his own shot as the Spaniard was about to play an approach shot.