What happened when Fuzzy Zoeller made racist remarks on Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters?

Tiger Woods and Fuzzy Zoeller (via Getty Images)
Tiger Woods and Fuzzy Zoeller (via Getty Images)

Tiger Woods has achieved almost all the accolades that a golfer can collect in his career. He has 82 wins on the PGA Tour, 41 wins on the European Tour and 15 major tournament wins. However, let's recall an incident when former professional golfer Fuzzy Zoeller made racist remarks about Woods back during the 1997 Masters Tournament.

Back in 1997, when Tiger Woods won his first tournament, Zoeller, who was already a veteran on the PGA Tour, had not won a single event in the last 10 years. When Zoeller was asked about Woods and his performance, the veteran golfer, as quoted by CBS Sports, said:

"He's doing quite well, pretty impressive. 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. Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve."
Tiger Woods in the Masters 2019 (via Getty Images)
Tiger Woods in the Masters 2019 (via Getty Images)

However, a public apology by Fuzzy Zoeller appeared in New York Times. He cleared that the comments on Tiger Woods were not racially intended. He said:

"My comments were not intended to be racially derogatory, and I apologize for the fact that they were misconstrued in that fashion."

Zoeller added that he had been on the tour for over two decades and everybody knows his habit of joking. He shared:

"I've been on the tour for 23 years and anybody who knows me knows that I am a jokester. It's too bad that something I said in jest was turned into something it’s not, but I didn't mean anything by it and I'm sorry if I offended anybody. If Tiger is offended by it, I apologize to him, too.

When the public apology by Fuzzy Zoeller was released, Tiger Woods cleared the rumors and said that he and the veteran golfer had a good conversation and decided to do good for the game of golf.

"Fuzzy and I had a nice lunch conversation. I found out something I needed to know and it’s over. Hopefully, we will have a good tournament. Over time, we will see it be an incident that will make this better for golf," said Tiger Woods.

Who is Fuzzy Zoeller?

Born on November 11, 1951, in New Albany, Indiana, Fuzzy Zoeller is a former professional golfer who played mostly on the PGA Tour. He is often known for his record of being only the third golfer of all time to win Masters Tournaments in his debut.

Fuzzy Zoeller has registered a total of 19 professional wins in his career, out of which ten came playing on the PGA Tour. He also won the 1984 US Open after defeating Greg Norman who now serves as LIV Golf CEO.

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Edited by Yash Singh