Australian golfer Jan Stephenson released a statement Saturday apologizing for saying in a magazine article that Asian players are hurting the LPGA.
"I would like to express my deepest apologies to the Asian community for my comments regarding the article in Golf Magazine," Stephenson said in the statement. "By no means did I intend to hurt anyone nor were the statements racially motivated. I clearly understand how these comments could be taken as racial comments, and for that I am truly sorry."
South Korean native Grace Park and other women playing at the Samsung World Championship took exception Friday to Stephenson's comments.
"She has her own opinion. I just don't like the fact she picked
on Asians and I'm Asian," Park said. "She should come and play
with me. I have great emotions. She made her points and if that's
how she feels, well. ... Everybody has their own opinions and Jan
stated her own and that's what was published."
Stephenson was interviewed by Golf Magazine's Peter Kessler, and her comments appear in an article written for the November
edition of the magazine, due out Tuesday.
"This is probably going to get me in trouble, but the Asians
are killing our tour. Absolutely killing it," Stephenson told the
magazine. "Their lack of emotion, their refusal to speak English
when they can speak English. They rarely speak.
"We have two-day pro-ams where people are paying a lot of money
to play with us, and they say, 'Hello and goodbye.' Our tour is
predominantly international and the majority of them are Asian.
They've taken it over."
Annika Sorenstam, the world's No. 1 player, called the comments "pathetic."
"I totally disagree with what she said," Sorenstam told the Houston Chronicle. "I enjoy playing with Se Ri [Pak]. All the Asian players have done a lot for the tour and raised the level of golf, which is why we're here. It's pretty much a pathetic comment."
Stephenson, who for years has said the LPGA should use sex as a marketing weapon, also said lesbians on the tour are harmful.
Fellow Aussie Rachel Teske told the Chronicle that the comments were disappointing because the LPGA has battled those issues for years.
In her statement Stephenson also apologizes to "the fans of the LPGA," alluding to those other than Asians that she may have offended by her comments. She also suggests that the interviewer, Kessler, conducted the interview in such a way as to highlight controversy, and that she "should have been more aware of the volitility and the potential negativity it would bring."
Se Ri Pak, who led at The Woodlands after Friday's round said she doesn't believe Stephenson meant what she said.
"There are a lot of talented players coming from all different kinds of countries," Pak said. "The LPGA is getting better. I
think it's a better thing for the LPGA."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.