ARDMORE, Pa. — A day after shaking Tiger Woods’s hand on the practice tee, Sergio Garcia offered another public apology Tuesday for his racially insensitive comments regarding Woods three weeks ago at a European PGA Tour event, even leaving a note in Woods’s locker at Merion Golf Club. But Garcia admitted the entire affair could affect his performance at this week’s U.S. Open.
“It obviously doesn’t help, but it is my own fault,” Garcia said. “So I don’t have anyone to blame other than myself.”
Tuesday was Garcia’s first public appearance in the United States since he was asked jokingly whether he would have Woods — with whom he engaged in a petty back-and-forth at the Players Championship in May — over for dinner at the U.S. Open.
“We will have him round every night,” Garcia said. “We will serve fried chicken.”
Garcia immediately apologized through the European tour and later at news conferences across the Atlantic. Woods called the remarks “wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate” on his Twitter account but said Tuesday he hadn’t had any direct apology from Garcia.
“We didn’t discuss anything,” Woods said. “Just came up and said, ‘Hi,’ and that was it.”
Garcia said he felt like the range “wasn’t the appropriate place — out of respect to him and to the other players — to do it there. I was hoping to see him afterwards.”
He didn’t. Garcia and Woods are on opposite sides of the draw — Garcia at 7:44 a.m. in Thursday’s first round, Woods at 1:14 p.m. — and it’s possible they won’t run across each other again this week.
Merion’s tight confines mean the practice range is located more than a mile from the first tee and players must take shuttle buses after their warmups. Given traffic and logistics, the trip can take 20 minutes or more.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played in a tournament where before the tournament starts they’re already saying guys will miss tee times,” said Graeme McDowell, the 2010 Open champ. “It’s not ideal obviously.”
The first tee at Merion sits almost on top of a patio where members can eat lunch. But the cramped quarters create a dilemma for players.
“That’s the interesting thing is you don’t want to leave too late, but you also don’t want to get there too early,” Woods said. “You cool off a little bit.” . . .
Phil Mickelson, who has famously finished second in the Open five times without winning, flew home to San Diego to attend his daughter’s graduation from eighth grade and will fly back across the country in time for his 7:11 a.m. tee time in Thursday’s first round.