Zoeller: My Tiger comment was joke gone awry
FILE - In this Friday, April 10. 1998 file photo, Fuzzy Zoeller looks back at defending Masters champion Tiger Woods, right, while they both wait their turns to tee off from the fourth hole during the second round of the 1998 Masters in Augusta, Ga. In 1997, Zoeller joked that Woods shouldn't order fried chicken for the next year's Masters champions' dinner. He said the comments were "misconstrued." (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
INDIANAPOLIS – Fuzzy Zoeller says he’s “paid my dues” after his infamous remarks about Tiger Woods ordering fried chicken for the Masters champions dinner and believes similar comments made by Sergio Garcia will eventually blow over.
Garcia has apologized to Woods after saying at a recent awards dinner in London that he would serve fried chicken if the two rivals had dinner at the U.S. Open. Garcia called it a “silly remark,” adding that “in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner.”
Still, the comment brought up the stereotype of simple-minded blacks obsessed with chicken and watermelon – a stereotype that dates back more than a century.
It also brought back memories of a similar comment that Zoeller made during the 1997 Masters, when Woods was romping to victory. Himself a former champion, Zoeller said on camera that he hoped Woods wouldn’t order fried chicken for the dinner honoring past champions the following year.
“Mine was a joke that went bad. What the hell, I paid my dues,” Zoeller said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where his spirits company – Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka – is sponsoring the pole-winning car that will be driven by Ed Carpenter in Sunday’s race.
While folks still remember his infamous comments, Zoeller said they’re well in the past.
Garcia’s eventually will be, too.
“I don’t know. They’ve had feuds before. It’s just the way it is. That’s sports,” Zoeller said. “There’s going to be feuds here this week sometime (at Indianapolis). Someone will get in (a spat) out here. Some you’ll hear about, some you won’t.”
Woods and Garcia have had a tumultuous couple of weeks, dating to the third round of The Players Championship, when Garcia implied that Woods purposely stirred up the gallery as the Spaniard was playing a shot. Woods said it was not surprising that Garcia was complaining.
“It’ll all blow over,” Zoeller said. “Those boys will be fine.”