Fuzzy Zoeller apologized Monday for calling Masters champion Tiger Woods “that little boy” and urging him not to request fried chicken or collard greens for the Champions Dinner next year.
“My comments were not intended to be racially derogatory, and I apologize for the fact that they were misconstrued in that fashion,” Zoeller said in a statement released by his agent.
Zoeller’s comments about Woods, made at Augusta National while the 21-year-old was becoming the first black golfer to win a major tournament, were broadcast Sunday on CNN’s “Pro Golf Weekly.”
According to a transcript released by the Atlanta-based network, Zoeller said, “That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well. He’s doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it?”
On the tape, Zoeller snapped his fingers, turned to walk away, then added, “Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”
Woods, as defending champion, will get to select the menu for the Champions Dinner next year. He is the youngest Masters winner in history after his record-setting, 12-stroke victory. Zoeller, one of the most free-spirited players on the PGA Tour, said he was merely joking when he made the comments.
Zoeller said he didn’t intend for his comments to be construed in a racial context.
“I was merely making reference to the Champions Dinner. In fact, when I hosted the dinner, I served fast-food hamburgers,” said Zoeller, who won the 1979 Masters. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for Tiger as a person and an athlete.”
$400,000 debt led to suicide
A ticket broker who committed suicide during the Masters was facing a $400,000 shortfall for failing to come up with the gallery badges.
Allen Caldwell III loved golf, loved the Masters and dreamed of turning his passion for the tournament into cash.
But after a deal to deliver about 100 scalped Masters tickets to wealthy corporate clients fell through, Caldwell shot himself on the deck of his home. World Golf Hospitality, the company Caldwell worked for as a partner, is still sorting out the financial mess with angry clients.
Pressure mounted as Caldwell stood to lose $400,000. Brokers say he was double-crossed by ticketholders who arranged to sell him their badges but then sold out to other scalpers for a higher price.
Caldwell was offering to pay $1,000 to $3,000 for Masters badges. But a dwindling ticket supply, coupled with the corporate frenzy over Tiger Woods, drove blackmarket prices as high as $10,000 per badge.
Lehman posts first win as No. 1
Tom Lehman stepped on the course Monday for the first time as the No. 1 golfer in the world. Then he lived up to his ranking.
Lehman, who ascended to the top of the rankings with his fourth-place finish the day before in the MCI Classic, beat defending American champion Scott Hoch in the first round of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf in Eatonton, Ga.
“Actually, it gave me some confidence,” Lehman said of his introduction as the top-ranked player. “It was pretty cool. I like the sound of that.”
Other first-round winners in the American championship were Davis Love III, 5-and-3 over Corey Pavin; Phil Mickelson, 3-and-2 over Mark O’Meara; and Fred Couples, 2-and1 over Steve Stricker.
This is one of four preliminary events - the others are for Japanese, European and international golfers. The four winners advance to the world finals at Scottsdale, Ariz., on Jan. 3-4, 1998.
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