Montgomerie - golf’s racism row left players scared

Colin Montgomerie. Picture: Getty

Colin Montgomerie. Picture: Getty

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COLIN Montgomerie believes golf’s racism row during the 
European Tour’s flagship event this week has left players and officials “frightened” to say anything in case they fall foul of the PC brigade.

The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is being played against a backdrop of controversy after Sergio Garcia and George O’Grady, the European Tour’s chief executive, both found themselves offering “unreserved apologies”.

Garcia’s was for a “fried chicken” jibe aimed at Tiger Woods while O’Grady had to say “sorry” as well after he used the word “coloured” in trying to defend the Spaniard.

As the storm finally started to calm down in the leafy Surrey stockbroker belt yesterday, Montgomerie tried to offer some perspective to a chain of events that will surely have been looked upon in a dim manner by the event’s sponsor.

“It’s a mountain out of a molehill, to be honest. Totally,” claimed the eight-time European No 1 and winning Ryder Cup captain in Wales three years ago. “I hope it hasn’t taken away from BMW, who have set up a fantastic tournament.

“Now we’ve got the [European Tour] chief executive involved in the whole thing having to say ‘sorry’. Christ, we’re all frightened to say anything; we’re frightened to open our mouths in case we say something that isn’t kosher in 2013.

“Somebody should tell us what to say because no one is quite sure what is right and wrong. George says ‘coloured’, somebody says ‘black’. But who is to say who is right and wrong?

“And for the chief executive, who is a very educated man, to get caught up, we need to decide what we can and can’t say and move on quickly.”

Montgomerie said he “felt sorry” for Garcia but then wondered if that might make him a candidate for the next apology if it seemed he was Tuesday night’s Players’ Dinner at a Heathrow hotel.

“We are a family here on the European Tour, a close family unit and we stand up for each other,” he added. “I’ve played a lot of Ryder Cups with Sergio and we are a very close family and we should remain that way. This shouldn’t affect us.

“If I was at the next press conference, I’ll have to say ‘sorry, no comment’ and hope that is not offending anybody. You can’t say a thing, can you?

“The three no-nos are race, religion and politics and you are going to upset someone along the line if you mention any of them. It’s time to move on and talk about golf.”

After feeling “sick” over his comment and coming close to pulling out of the £4 million event, Garcia safely negotiated the halfway cut on one-under after a second-round 71.

“It wasn’t the most comfortable week,” he admitted afterwards. “The conditions didn’t help very much the first couple of days and I guess I’m quite happy with the result.”

He described his walk to the first tee on Thursday as “unbelievable” and said the reaction towards him from both fans and fellow players over the last few days had been “great”.

Montgomerie was also pleased to make the cut after surviving a mid-round wobble – he dropped five shots in four holes around the turn – to sit on two-over following a 75.

“The middle of the round went haywire,” he admitted. “I was going great at three-under. Then I messed up when I three-putted eight and the wind at nine got really strong and I hit it into a bunker and took 6 there. Then I hit a bad tee shot at 11 and took 6 there also.

“So, to play from there on in level par was a real good effort. I can’t remember weather like this is in May. It was warmer at the match-play in September and October.

“It’s hellish. I’ve got two hand warmers trying to keep my circulation going. But that was a good battle.” “condoning” what the 33-year-old had said at Tuesday night’s Players’ Dinner at a Heathrow hotel.

“We are a family here on the European Tour, a close family unit and we stand up for each other,” he added. “I’ve played a lot of Ryder Cups with Sergio and we are a very close family and we should remain that way. This shouldn’t affect us.

“If I was at the next press conference, I’ll have to say ‘sorry, no comment’ and hope that is not offending anybody. You can’t say a thing, can you?

“The three no-nos are race, religion and politics and you are going to upset someone along the line if you mention any of them. It’s time to move on and talk about golf.”

After feeling “sick” over his comment and coming close to pulling out of the £4 million event, Garcia safely negotiated the halfway cut on one-under after a second-round 71.

“It wasn’t the most comfortable week,” he admitted afterwards. “The conditions didn’t help very much the first couple of days and I guess I’m quite happy with the result.”

He described his walk to the first tee on Thursday as “unbelievable” and said the reaction towards him from both fans and fellow players over the last few days had been “great”.

Montgomerie was also pleased to make the cut after surviving a mid-round wobble – he dropped five shots in four holes around the turn – to sit on two-over following a 75.

“The middle of the round went haywire,” he admitted. “I was going great at three-under. Then I messed up when I three-putted eight and the wind at nine got really strong and I hit it into a bunker and took 6 there. Then I hit a bad tee shot at 11 and took 6 there also.

“So, to play from there on in level par was a real good effort. I can’t remember weather like this is in May. It was warmer at the match-play in September and October.

“It’s hellish. I’ve got two hand warmers trying to keep my circulation going. But that was a good battle.”

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