TOP golf commentator Ewen Murray has called for Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods to “put an arm around one another” for the good of the game.
The Edinburgh man has got to know both players through his role as Sky Sports’ “Voice of Golf” and finds it sad to see the pair at loggerheads.
Never the best of friends, their relationship deteriorated when Garcia hit out at Woods for causing a distraction when they were paired together in the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass a fortnight ago.
It then hit rock bottom after the Spaniard sparked uproar by making a perceived racist remark by saying he’d serve “fried chicken to Woods” during an interview at a Ryder Cup reunion in London on Tuesday night.
Garcia has since offered an unreserved apology to the world No. 1 and Murray, who recently returned to home club Baberton to open a new clubhouse, believes Woods should now play his part in trying to heal the rift.
“It was an unfortunate,” said Murray of Garcia’s comment. “I don’t think there was any malice in it. I’ve known the lad for 15 years and it was just an off-the-cuff remark that went wrong.
“It was the right thing for Sergio to apologise and now it would be nice if Tiger turned round and said ‘look I’m 37, you’re 33 and we’re going to be paired at tournaments in the future’.
“Maybe it’s time for them to put an arm around one another and be respectful of the gifts they have.” Murray, who is heading the Sky Sports golf team as it provides live coverage of all four days of this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth for the first time, added: “What happened at Sawgrass was unsavoury and we could do without that sort of thing. But it’s like everywhere else. If you go into an office, you’ll have situations of people not getting on with one another.
“It needs to end with Sergio and Tiger, though, as they don’t need this and neither does golf.
“I knew Tiger pretty well when Butch [Harmon] was coaching him and he was a well-mannered young man. I know he’s changed a little bit, but the world has also changed a little bit.
“Both of them are great players and there is no space for this. It’s up to both of them what happens now. Sergio has done what he had to do. It was unfortunate remark and he knows that. But I think Tiger should now come out and say ‘let’s shake hands and move on’.”
Garcia is playing in the European Tour’s flagship event this week for the first time since 2000, but admitted he felt “sick” during yesterday’s pro-am as he realised his “stupid” mistake.
“It will be tremendously difficult for Sergio to concentrate on the tournament now, which is a pity as he was coming in here as one of the favourites on a tough golf course,” noted Murray.
“I played here a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was. It is going to take someone of Sergio’s quality to post four good scores. I can’t see him doing that now as I know Sergio well enough to know what has happened will affect him.” Murray cut his golfing teeth at Baberton, where his dad, Jimmy, was the club pro for approximately 25 years.
And he admits it was a huge thrill to be asked to return to the Juniper Green club last month to officially open its new clubhouse.
“It was nice to go back though emotional at the same time due to my father’s connection to the club,” said Murray. “It was also nice to see the changes as time moves on. For instance, there are houses behind the first green that weren’t there before. They’ve also just put in 18 new greens of USGA-standard which is a huge step forward and, of course, the new clubhouse which they’ve built for £2.3 million after selling the land where the old one was for £2.4m. Members didn’t have to dig into their pockets so, all in all, the future looks good.”