“I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports for which I unreservedly apologize,” O’Grady said in a statement released later on Thursday.
Woods and Garcia have exchanged barbs over the past two 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.
The tension escalated on Tuesday when Garcia and his Ryder Cup teammates were at a dinner. The emcee, Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, jokingly asked Garcia if he would have Woods over for dinner during the US Open.
“We’ll have him round every night,” Garcia replied. “We will serve fried chicken.”
The remark was reminiscent of Fuzzy Zoeller’s similar comment about Woods during his record-setting victory in the 1997 Masters, where Woods became the first player of black heritage to win a major.
Garcia issued a statement through the European Tour after the dinner that did not mention Woods by name.
He apologized “for any offense that may have been caused” by answering the question with a “silly remark.”
“But in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner,” the statement said.
Woods responded on Wednesday morning with a series of tweets that said: “The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate. I’m confident that there is real regret the remark was made.”
Certain foods, fried chicken and watermelon in particular, have been used in dehumanizing caricatures of black people from as early as the beginning the US’ segregation era in the 19th century.
The imagery has become less common in the decades since integration.