Let it be clear that the chickens in this latest racial episode involving Tiger Woods are the PGA Tour, which didn’t immediately hit Sergio Garcia with a swift punishment, and the European Tour, which allowed Sergio to play in this week’s BMW tournament — and also Sergio himself with that chickenspit apology.
But at least, through all of this, we finally see Tiger get genuinely angry and react as his father would, if Earl Woods were alive. That is refreshing.
“The comment that was made wasn’t silly,” Tiger tweeted this morning. “It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate.”
This time, Tiger didn’t let it slide when Garcia escalated their feud to dangerous territory when he offered to serve “fried chicken” next month at the U.S. Open as a way of making peace. This time, Tiger lashed out, when in the past, he more or less let folks off the hook.
Fuzzy Zoeller did twist in the wind a bit for his “chicken” comment 15 years ago, but Zoeller was already out of golf for the most part. Then came Tiger’s former caddy, Steve Williams, who talked about kicking Tiger’s “black arse” after they broke up, and now, Sergio, a wisecracking choker who thought he was being funny Tuesday night.
Tiger didn’t take Sergio’s phone calls this morning and likely won’t offer anything more than a terse “no comment” the next time he’s asked about someone he has little respect for, as a player and a person. Which makes sense. Why try to reconcile with someone who clearly doesn’t like you, doesn’t want anything to do with you, which was evident when Sergio took a few shots at Tiger during and after the Players Tournament?
It’s also weird how Tim Finchem, the PGA commissioner, spoke to Sergio and, according to Sergio, accepted the apology without any sanctions. Not even a wrist-slap? An angry reaction via press release? Nothing? As is the case with incidents like this, organizations like to wait to see where the wind is blowing before taking action, if any. That’s chicken. Finchem should’ve drawn a line about these comments long ago, and that’s why the tour continues to be viewed with skepticism by some people of color, who don’t see anyone who looks like them in positions of authority.
Lord, I wish Earl Woods were still around. Earl would have something to say. Earl knew racism, as a kid growing up in the Midwest, and the scattered comments directed to his son would’ve set him off. Tiger didn’t have his father’s experiences, not for the most part. He was raised in suburbia and once folks discovered he had a gift, they opened doors for him. For the most part.
At least the mature Tiger, the one we see now, is ready to say: enough. We now see the Earl in him slowly starting to emerge, to draw the line, to speak up and speak out.
“It’s long past time to move on and talk about golf,” Tiger tweeted.
Really? Well, why didn’t Fuzzy and Steve Williams and Sergio realize that?