Elkington, who won his only major in 1995 at the PGA Championship, flared the ire of Twitter users and then sections of the US media this week after suggesting on Tuesday (February 25) that Sam should engage in ‘throwing handbags’ while at an NFL draft practice camp.
The highly-regarded University of Missouri defensive end is widely-expected to become the sport’s first openly-gay professional footballer if selected as expected in May’s draft.
Elkington, 51, initially tweeted that ESPN’s coverage of Sam was ‘‘embarrassing” before following it up with: “ESPN reporting Michael Sam is leading the handbag throw at NFL combine… No one else expected to throw today.”
Elkington quickly deleted the tweets and tried to then clarify his position.
“I’m for Sam I’m against ESPN telling me he’s gay,” he posted.
Elkington deleted those posts too, which he has since said was at the behest of the PGA Tour.
In a statement to the media, the PGA said it did not condone offensive conduct.
‘‘Under our regulations, conduct unbecoming a professional includes public commentary that is clearly inappropriate or offensive. With respect to this matter, and consistent with our longstanding policy, we do not comment on player disciplinary matters,’’ the tour said in a statement.
It goes back to “a ball hit an oriental spectator”.There’s no oriental spectators..There just spectators..”like m Sam…He’s just an athlete
— Steve Elkington (@elkpga) February 25, 2014
Despite the PGA warning, in a bizarre move Elkington yesterday again took to Twitter to defend himself but seemingly only drew the further ire of social media users after using racialised terms within a vague analogy.
‘‘It goes back to ‘a ball hit an oriental spectator’. There’s no oriental spectators .. There just spectators.. like m Sam…He’s just an athlete,’’ he tweeted on February 26.
That tweet has also been heavily criticised with a number of Twitter users suggesting Elkington is “on another planet”, suffering from “idiocy” and others pleading for Elkington to return to the golf course.
“‘Elk,’ give Twitter a break and hit the driving range,” US business journalist Rocco Pendola tweeted.
Elkington has in recent years been censured for other offensive remarks, including racist comments made while on the European Tour last year.
This week’s outburst wasn’t the first time Elkington has targeted Sam over Twitter either.
In a February 19 post, Elkington seemed to be mocking of Sam’s sexuality and his decision to publicly announce it. Asked by a Twitter user if he was being homophobic, Elkington responded: “no but you are”.
— Steve Elkington (@elkpga) February 18, 2014