No matter how many millions of dollars have been raised on the PGA Tour for worthy charities across the USA and the noble First Tee programs, the game of golf is and always will be defined by its inability to change.
This week, the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio is the PGA stop that honors one of the legends of the game. Raymond Floyd is the honoree, Jack Nicklaus is the host, and yes, Tiger Woods is in the field.
Woods has again been victimized by the inability of the game to move away from its racist foundation. I refer to the flap between Tiger and Sergio Garcia that started three weeks ago at the Players Championship. The signature event of the PGA Tour was created on the basis that Garcia did not like Tiger.
To accuse your playing partner of causing you to miss a shot because of the reaction to crowd noise is baseless. Unfortunately, the media fueled this controversy by constantly running and asking Garcia what he thought of Tiger as a person. If you don’t like someone, the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut. When you win you say little, and when you lose you say less.
Garcia could not do that. He lost by dunking two balls in the lake on Sunday at the island green 17th hole. And later at the European PGA Championship in England, Garcia, still festering, was asked what he would prepare for Tiger for dinner at the upcoming U.S Open next month. Garcia said, “I’ll prepare fried chicken.”
Garcia is not a fool or the first to utter a racist remark at Tiger. Remember Fuzzy Zoeller after Tiger won the 1997 Masters? Or last year Steve Williams, Tiger’s ex-caddie, saying he would kick Tiger’s “Black arse”?
George O’Grady, chief executive of the European PGA Tours, said, “We have accepted Garcia’s apology. We know he has many colored friends and consider the matter closed.” There is no end to the disrespect that Tiger deals with. He said, “The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful, and clearly inappropriate.”
Tiger is closing in on the two most cherished records in golf: Jack Nicklaus’ 18 Major Championship wins and Sam Snead’s 82 career wins on the PGA Tour. Many do not want him to break those records. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer would never have been subjected to this blatant assault.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is at fault here. He should have killed the Garcia flap day one by seeing to it that his PGA marshals walking with Tiger and Garcia were accurate. They created another stir by having two different accounts of what happened.
Tiger is never given the benefit of the doubt because of who he is and the color of his skin. It is really sad that given the hundreds of millions they make because of his accomplishments and popularity, the fact that he is Tiger and different allows them to treat him differently and apologize later — “my bad.”
I don’t buy it, this business of sweeping it under the rug. To accuse Tiger of cheating at the Masters or taking an unfair drop at the Players are examples of how they try to tarnish and discredit Tiger. The PGA Tour and the game of golf’s leadership owe it to the changing face of America and the world to recognize the failures in diversity that are inherent in the very nature of golf.
Actions speak louder than words, and because Finchem has turned his back to the pure biased culture of golf, he allows this crap to pop up. He needs more diversity on TV broadcast media and the executive committees. Words harm Tiger and those who admire him and the game itself. It must stop. It’s so unfair.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.