Fuzzy Zoeller said he's paid his dues following a controversial remark in 1997. (Stan Badz/PGA/Getty Images)
The controversy surrounding Sergio Garcia's "friend chicken" remark concerning Tiger Woods has pulled Fuzzy Zoeller back to the headlines. Zoeller said he's "paid his dues" after making a similar infamous remark about Woods in 1997 and he believes the fallout hounding Garcia will eventually blow over.
Garcia apologized to Woods in a press conference after he answered a question at an awards dinner in London regarding the pair's recent media dust-up, saying that he would help make peace by serving fried chicken. Garcia called the stereotypical comment that's long been considered to be derogatory a "silly remark" and that it was not intended to be racist.
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Zoeller also touched on the stereotype 16 years ago when he said he hoped Woods, then 21, wouldn't order friend chicken for the traditional Masters champions dinner.
A 2001 SI.com story looked back on Zoeller's comment and its repercussions:
Fuzzy walked through the little knot of reporters and TV crews that gathers every day during the Masters under the shade of a sprawling oak between the clubhouse and the 1st tee. He stopped for a chat, of course. In those days he always had time to talk. He looked at the scoreboard and said, "Pretty impressive. That little boy is driving it 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?" He snapped his fingers, started to walk away and then turned to deliver one last line: "Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve."
Zoeller went on to lose endorsement deals and a fishing show on ESPN, mainly he believes because of the bad publicity that followed the controversy. He said he's moved on from the career-altering "joke" and Garcia will survive his gaffe, too.
“Mine was a joke that went bad. What the hell, I paid my dues," Zoeller said. "It'll all blow over."