Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts as he watches his putt on the seventh green during the final round of The Players Championship PGA golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida May 12, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
VIRGINIA WATER, England -- Sergio Garcia said "sorry" 11 times and used the word "apology" on five occasions as he spoke of his regret at causing a furor by making a "fried chicken" jibe at world No. 1 Tiger Woods.
Garcia told reporters Wednesday that his comment, made at the European Tour Player of the Year awards the night before, was "stupid and out of place" and said he regretted it the moment he made it.
Fourteen-time major winner Woods, whose relationship with the Spaniard is frosty at best, was in unforgiving mood earlier in the day.
"The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate," Woods said on his Twitter account.
Garcia's remark came when he was asked on stage whether he would be inviting Woods for dinner during next month's U.S. Open in Pennsylvania.
"We will have him 'round every night," said the world No. 14. "We will serve fried chicken."
Fried chicken has become a racial stereotype in the United States when referring to black people -- a reference to the days before the abolition of slavery when chicken was believed to be a staple part of the diet.
Garcia moved quickly to explain his remark, at first issuing an apology through the European Tour.
The 33-year-old Spaniard then took part in a hastily arranged news conference on the eve of the PGA Championship at Wentworth to underline his regret.
"I want to send an apology," Garcia said. "I didn't want to offend anyone ... I was caught off-guard by the question.
"I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner. I understand my answer was totally stupid and out of place and ... I can't say sorry enough about that.
"I'd also like to say sorry to the European Tour and to my Ryder Cup teammates for taking the shine away from what was a wonderful dinner that we all thoroughly enjoyed until that moment," Garcia said.
"Finally, and most importantly, I want to apologize to Tiger. I feel sick about it, I'm truly, truly sorry and hope we can kind of settle things down and move on."
Garcia and Woods fell out this month after an incident at the Players Championship in Florida.
The Spaniard blamed a roar from the crowd watching Woods for an errant shot when the two men featured in the same group.
The gallery erupted during Garcia's backswing upon seeing the world No. 1 reach for his five-wood for a daring escape from a tee shot that finished deep into the trees.
The pair subsequently made clear they have never been the best of friends but Garcia said that he had already tried to contact Woods in a bid to make amends for his "fried chicken" remark.