Fort Worth, Texas, United States: Nearly half the field were already on the Colonial Country Club course on Thursday morning at the Charles Schwab Challenge when, for a brief minute, action stopped.
The soothing sounds of a club striking a ball, or a ball dropping into a hole, fell silent.
As part of on-going efforts to amplify the voices and efforts underway to end racial and social injustice, the PGA Tour set aside an 8:46 am tee time that featured no players. The time was set aside in Fort Worth and also at TPC Sawgrass, which hosts the Korn Ferry Tour Challenge, as 8:46 has become a universal symbol for the racial injustice faced by the black community.
“A great word that I’ve sort of been thinking of over the last couple of weeks is tolerance,” said Rory McIlroy, the reigning FedEx Cup champion. “I think everyone can just be a little more tolerant, and a little more educated and not as ignorant. Nowadays, and going back into history, there has never been a place in society for what has gone on in the world over the past however many hundreds of years.
“The fact that it does seem to be this real will to change and have reform is amazing. It’s been a great thing to see, and I hope it continues to be in the conversation. As we move forward, I think people have learned a lot over the last few weeks, and hopefully we’ll see things change as time goes on.”
George Floyd died at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, touching off worldwide protests. On June 1, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan addressed the issue through a letter to employees, players and tournaments, and later sat for a conversation with Harold Varner III to further discuss the Tour’s potential role in the national conversation and solution.
Monahan has also shared his thoughts on current events with several national media outlets, saying that while the Tour doesn’t have all the answers, the organisation is going to listen, learn, ‘demand better’ and expects to be held accountable for making a commitment to the solution.
“I think there will be discussion, and I think some people will forget about it. I think so many people will move on, but the conversation I had with Jay when we weren’t being recorded, I think this week won’t be the last,” Varner said.
“So yes, they’re pressured, but I also think it’s the right thing to do, and I think Jay knows that, so I’m super behind him on that. We got to talking about something where I come from, what I think about it. I’m just super fortunate to be able to say something and it matter but also be part of the change. Everyone in this society right now is going to be part of that.”
The Tour’s Inclusion Leadership Council has been an integral part of the organisation’s efforts, as has CORE, the Tour’s multi-cultural employee resource group dedicated to diversity of thought and cultural change. Additionally, the Tour is developing a plan to rally around a long-term, focused commitment to address racial justice issues, the details of which will be shared in the weeks to come.
For now, however, players and officials are simply excited to pay their own special tribute to the inspiring events taking place across America.
“Being one of the first sports back, it’s important to set the tone going forward for other sports and for just people in general,” Brooks Koepka said.
“And I think it’s important to set the tone. At 8:46, I think it was special. I don’t know that the PGA Tour has ever really done something like this, a moment of silence even during the rounds. Not while I’ve been playing. I think it’s special with what’s going on right now.
“There needs to be change, and I want to be part of the solution, and I think this is one way that the PGA Tour is stepping up and doing that.”