Aussie golfer says 'I was wrong'

Updated: October 11, 2003, 8:49 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

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."

Stephenson's Apology
I would like to express my deepest apologies to the Asian community for my comments regarding the article in Golf Magazine. 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.

I value those relationships which I have both personally and professionally with individuals that are either Asian or of Asian descent. The interview was conducted with a controversial undertone, and understanding that, I should have been more aware of the volatility and the potential negativity it would bring. After hearing the statement read back to me prior to the release of it, I requested that the editor reword that portion.

Once again, I was wrong in making these comments, and I know I must be more responsible with my thoughts and/or comments when giving an interview. I am sorry to the LPGA players that are hurt by these comments, and I ask for your forgiveness. I have spent 30 years of my life on this tour, and it has become my life. The LPGA has been my family and I have given this tour and this family everything I have to give. As in life there are ups and downs, and I sincerely hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me and to move forward from this.

To all Asian-Americans, the Asian community, the fans of the LPGA, and to anyone else who has been offended by these statements, I am geniuinely sorry to you as well, and ask you to accept my apology. As an Australian residing in another country I have experienced what it is like to be singled out, and I was not sensitive to that feeling or yours. Once again, I am 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.

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