- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sergio Garcia could have stopped after he whined about fans of Tiger Woods making too much noise on the golf course. He should have stopped after saying Woods is not a nice person who has been lying to the media since the first time he stepped into an interview room.

That he didn’t close his mouth may end up to be Garcia’s biggest regret in a career already chock full of them.

“The problem is, I’m one of the guys that has to say something,” Garcia said the other day. “A lot of people think about it, but don’t want to say anything.”

OK, Sergio, you’ve had your say. Great line about the fried chicken, though I hate to tell you it’s already been used.

Now it’s time to shut up.

No need for further apologies like the one you made Wednesday about your attempt at a joke being totally stupid and out of place. Unlike you, we figured that out easily enough when Fuzzy Zoeller said it at the Masters 16 years ago, and it’s just as true today.

Just go away, somewhere where there’s not a microphone in sight. Put away the sticks, and take the summer off.

Doesn’t matter much anyway because Woods is so far under your skin that there is no way you’re going to beat him in the U.S. Open, the British Open, or any other Open. Anyone needing further evidence should go looking for golf balls with the initials SG on them in the pond surrounding the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass.

Yes, this was all kind of funny up to a certain point. No one calls out Tiger Woods _ at least on the golf course _ and the thought of Woods and Garcia sniping at each other as the golf season heated up was an entertaining one.

The petulant child taking on the arrogant superstar. If nothing else, it was something to fill time while waiting to see if Woods was ever going to win another major championship.

Then Garcia upped the ante by making it real personal and really ugly. Regrets, sure he has some now, but the line in England about his dinner plans with Woods didn’t come out of nowhere.

Black people and fried chicken, get it? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

My initial thought was that this could only happen in golf, an insular sport that has never been terribly welcoming to minorities. Turns out, though, that there are soccer fields across Europe where people actually laugh at this kind of racist drivel.

But for it to happen twice in golf means the lessons of the past simply haven’t been learned. And for it to come from Garcia, who has spent his career unsuccessfully chasing Woods, shows both a stunning lack of maturity and a complete ignorance of how racial stereotypes can cause real pain.

To give Garcia some credit, he said he was sick to his stomach when he realized what came out of his mouth. Indeed, this was more stupid than it was racial, a juvenile attempt to upstage Woods for his continuing smugness about beating Garcia earlier this month when Garcia self-destructed in the Players Championship.

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