Sergio Garcia of Spain emerges from a meeting in the rules office with George O'Grady, Chief Executive of the European Tour (L) and Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner (R) during the Pro-Am round prior to the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth on May 22, 2013 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — The head of the European golf tour apologized Thursday for using the term “colored” during a live television interview in which he was reacting to the spat between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.

European Tour CEO George O’Grady said that “most of Sergio’s friends are colored athletes in the United States.”

The word “colored” is considered an antiquated and offensive term in some countries when referring to black people.

“I deeply regret using an inappropriate word in a live interview for Sky Sports for which I unreservedly apologize,” O’Grady said in a statement released later Thursday.

Woods and Garcia have exchanged barbs over the past two weeks, dating to the third round of The Players Championship when Garcia implied that Woods purposely stirred up the gallery as the Spaniard was playing a shot.

The tension escalated Tuesday when Garcia and his Ryder Cup teammates were at a dinner. The emcee, Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, jokingly asked Garcia if he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open.

“We’ll have him round every night,” Garcia replied. “We will serve fried chicken.”

The remark was reminiscent of Fuzzy Zoeller’s similar comment about Woods during his record-setting victory in the 1997 Masters, where Woods became the first player of black heritage to win a major.

Garcia issued a statement through the European Tour after the dinner that did not mention Woods by name. He apologized “for any offense that may have been caused” by answering the question with a “silly remark.”

“But in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner,” the statement said.

Woods responded Wednesday morning with a series of tweets that said: “The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate. I’m confident that there is real regret the remark was made. The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.”

Certain foods, fried chicken and watermelon in particular, have been used in dehumanizing caricatures of blacks from as early as the beginning America’s segregation era in the 19th century. The imagery has become less common in the decades since integration.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.