A PGA-winning golfer is catching some heat after sending — and then deleting — a controversial tweet about Michael Sam, an openly gay NFL hopeful.

Debate and angst followed golf star Steve Elkington’s message on Tuesday, which read, “ESPN reporting Michael Sam is leading the handbag throw at NFL combine…No one else expected to throw today.”

Elkington subsequently removed the message, claiming that it was a joke that went terribly wrong.

A screen shot from the tweet that has since been removed.

A screen shot from the tweet that has since been removed.

The golfer, a 10-time PGA Tour winner and PGA Championship champ, was reportedly told by the PGA to take down the tweet, according to Shane Bacon, a writer for Yahoo!

Elkington later attempted to explain his stance on Sam, noting that he is “for Sam” but “against ESPN telling me he’s gay.”

The sentiment here seems to be centered on the notion that Elkington doesn’t want the focus to be on the player’s sexual orientation. Another tweet he sent, though, explaining his rationale, also delves into some controversial territory.

“It goes back to ‘a ball hit an oriental spectator’. There’s no oriental spectators,” Elkington wrote. “There just spectators. [Like Michael] Sam…he’s just an athlete.”

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 Elkingtons Tweet About Openly Gay Football Player Michael Sam Has Landed the PGA Winning Golfer in Hot Water
@elkpga
Steve Elkington

Yahoo! Sports’ Jay Busbee responded to the use of the word “oriental” by writing, “Steve, ‘Oriental’ hasn’t been used to describe people of Asian descent for decades.”

Despite the debate over Elkington’s tweets, Sam himself has spoken about about the focus on his orientation, claiming that he believes it’s eclipsing his football capabilities.

“I wish you guys would just say, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going? How’s training going?’ I would love for you to ask me that question,” Sam told reporters over the weekend. “But it is what it is. And I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”

(H/T: Yahoo! Sports)

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