‘I’m sorry!’ Golf’s biggest apologies


Suzann Pettersen has issued a heartfelt apology over her actions in the Solheim Cup. Her opponent Alison Lee picked up a 16-inch putt, only for the Norwegian star to say she hadn’t given it. It resulted in a loss of hole for Lee – and a global storm of criticism aimed at Pettersen’s ‘unsporting’ behaviour.

After sleeping on the issue – and no doubt receiving substantial criticism via her social media accounts – Pettersen took to Instagram the following morning to issue a heartfelt apology. She wasn’t the first golfer to make a public apology – and she won’t be the last. Here are other players who’ve had to swallow their pride and say ‘sorry’.

Suzann Pettersen

2015 Solheim Cup ‘Gimme-gate’

What happened: She incurred the wrath of golf when Alison Lee picked up a 16-inch putt, and Pettersen told the ref she hadn’t given it, resulting in the USA losing the hole. After being labelled “total BS” by US captain Juli Inkster, and “disgusting” by legend Laura Davies, Pettersen took to Instagram on Monday moring to issue this

I’ve never felt more gutted and truly sad about what went down Sunday on the 17th at the Solheim Cup. 
I am so sorry for not thinking about the bigger picture in the heat of the battle and competition. I was trying my hardest for my team and put the single match and the point that could be earned ahead of sportsmanship and the game of golf itself! I feel like I let my team down and I am sorry.

To the U.S. team, you guys have a great leader in Juli , who I’ve always looked up to and respect so much. Knowing I need to make things “right,” I had a face to face chat with her before leaving Germany this morning to tell her in person how I really feel about all of this. I wanted her also to know that I am sorry.

I hope in time the U.S. team will forgive me and know that I have learned a valuable lesson about what is truly important in this great game of golf which has given me so much in my life.
To the fans of golf who watched the competition on TV, I am sorry for the way I carried myself. I can be so much better and being an ambassador for this great game means a lot to me.

The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career. I wish I could change Sunday for many reasons. Unfortunately I can’t. 
This week I want to push forward toward another opportunity to earn the Solheim Cup back for Europe in the right way. And I want to work hard to earn back your belief in me as someone who plays hard, plays fair and plays the great game of golf the right way.



Patrick Reed

2014 WGC gay slur

What happened: Reed apologised for an outburst at the HSBC Champions, which was captured on live television during the opening round of a World Golf Championship. He was on his 10th hole in the opening round when he missed a five-footer.

He was picked up using the F-word twice and capping it off with another F-word – a gay slur – after a three-putt bogey. “Yesterday, I made a stupid error,” he said. “Sorry for the words that I said and everything that went on. Never should have happened. Unfortunately, it happened to me and all I can do is just learn from it and move on, hopefully continue playing well and keep giving fans something to watch.

“The passion I have for the game is never going to change. And the drive to play well and win is never going to change. It’s just if I’m ever going to get upset at myself, especially after a Ryder Cup and at the level of golf I’m playing nowadays, you can’t have outbursts. Unfortunately, I did, and happened to be on camera.”




2015 Sexist comments by Peter Alliss at The Open

What happened: Alliss caused controversy on Sunday while talking about amateur star Paul Dunne being hugged by his mother. The 84-year-old Alliss said: “Ah, that must be mum. Perhaps he likes older women. I don’t know but I hope I got the right one.”

He put his feet in it again on the Monday, when he said Kim Barclay, the wife of Zach Johnson would probably be thinking about a “new kitchen” as her husband closed on victory. A BBC spokesperson said today: “Peter made a light hearted comment which was inappropriate and we apologise if anyone was offended.”



Scott McCarron

2013 Accuses Phil Mickelson of cheating

What happened: PGA Tour journeyman McCarron was forced to apologise to Phil Mickelson for using the word “cheating” when he disagreed with Mickelson and others who use deep-grooved Ping Eye2 wedges that were only allowed because of a legal loophole.

Mickelson said he had been “publicly slandered” and hinted at legal action. McCarron said: “I’m certainly sorry for it. I’d like to apologise to Phil Mickelson for what I said. We both realize we’re on the same page on this issue.” Mickelson took no further action.



Sergio Garcia

2013 ‘We’ll serve fried chicken’

What happened: Sergio Garcia thought he’d crack a joke when he got on stage during an annual European Tour awards dinner. Sadly, the joke was at his old nemesis Tiger Woods’ expense – and it had racial overtones.

When he was asked in jest if he’d have the American round for dinner during the upcoming US Open. “We will have him round every night,” Garcia said. “We will serve fried chicken.” He also said it to a room packed with sports journalists, and the ensuing row caused Sergio to issue a swift clarification: “I apologise for any offence that may have been caused by my comment on stage during The European Tour Players’ Awards dinner. I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark, but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner.” 



Fuzzy Zoeller

1997 ‘Collared greens’

What happened: Fuzzy Zoeller’s infamous remark towards Woods in 1997 effectively ended his career – he was never the same player or person again.

After Woods won his first major, the 1997 Masters, which entitled him to choose the champions’ dinner menu for the following year, Zoeller said: “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.” 

Zoeller apologised and said he had been misconstrued, but sponsors deserted him and his game disappeared.



Tiger Woods

2010: Woods says sorry for cheating on his wife

What happened: Things have never been quite the same for Tiger since he appeared in front of a specially invited audience of friends and family to confess all after his private life went public in November 2009.

“I was unfaithful, I had affairs and I cheated. What I did was unacceptable,” said the 14-time major winner. “I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation and kids all around the world who admired me. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to.” 

Woods spoke for more than 13 minutes in front of TV cameras, addressing about 40 people in the room, including his mother, friends, colleagues and close associates. His wife, Elin, was not present.

He added: “I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting, instead I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries a married couple should live by.” 

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