ARDMORE, Pa. -- In one of his more noteworthy performances at a major, Sergio Garcia repeatedly and emphatically said Tuesday he is sorry for having used a remark considered racist toward Tiger Woods. He added that he wants to apologize to Woods in person, but has not had the opportunity, so he left him a note.
"A handwritten note," Garcia said during his pre-U.S. Open news conference at Merion Golf Club. "And hopefully, he can take a look at it and, you know, it's a big week and I understand that it's difficult to meet up and stuff.''
Garcia did shake hands with Woods on the driving range Monday, but said it would have been disrespectful to him and to the other players to use that setting to apologize for having made the flippant remark about fried chicken when he was asked about Woods during a banquet in England. He added that he did not see Woods after practice Monday or early Tuesday morning.
For his part, Woods, during his own news conference, 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.''
The player from Spain, who has come close but never has won a major, has apologized before for the remark directed toward Woods, with whom he has had a contentious relationship. But this one took on additional weight because of the setting, at the U.S. national championship, and the persistence of the questions.
At one point, a reporter who is African-American asked Garcia if he realized that the insensitive comment was felt not just by Woods. "I understand that," Garcia said. "That's why I said 'sorry,' because I can obviously see that I hurt a lot of people. And that doesn't make me feel good. I can tell you that.
"I wish I could go back in time and take back what I said, but unfortunately, I said it. You know the only thing I can do is show you my respect from here, moving forward."
In a way, it was Garcia's version of Woods' own apology statement, following the revelation of his personal scandals. Unlike Woods, who issued only a statement in front of a stark blue background, Garcia fielded questions, and appeared ready for each one.
When he was asked if the controversy's toll would prevent him from contending this week, Garcia said: "I don't know. We'll see. It obviously doesn't help, but it's my own fault. So I don't have anyone to blame other than myself."
One thing they might agree on is it can be challenging, playing a major in the Northeast. During the 2002 Open at Bethpage, Garcia made an obscene gesture at heckling fans.
"Well, we all make mistakes. I've obviously made my fair share," he said, adding that he has had a solid relationship with spectators and that galleries have supported him so far this week.
Woods won that Open 11 years ago and believes the fans in Philadelphia will be similarly boisterous as the ones on Long Island. "I'm sure we'll hear them," Woods said.
Though Woods did win that Open, he has struggled elsewhere in the Northeast. He never won at Westchester Country Club, which is an old-style course like Merion.
In any event, there is no doubt that Woods has different priorities this week than focusing on Garcia. "I just enter events to win, and that's it," Woods said. "That to me is the rush. That's the fun. That's the thrill."