PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Three blasts of the horn, and Joseph Bramlett didn’t flinch. He stood with his hand on his hip, his right leg crossed over his left, his eyes closed.
It was 8:46 a.m., and Bramlett – one of four Tour players of black heritage – was observing a moment of silence to honor the memory of George Floyd. Eight minutes of 46 seconds is the length of time that authorities say a white Minneapolis police office kneeled on the neck of Floyd, a handcuffed black man, before he died.
“I really thought about how grateful I was to be in the position I’m in in this world," Bramlett said after his opening-round 69 at the Korn Ferry Challenge. "I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the last couple of weeks on how I can use my platform and what I can do to help this cause. I really spent a moment honoring George in my mind and being grateful for where I am.”
It was Bramlett and his agent who reached out to a PGA Tour media official to hold a presser after his first round.
He wanted to talk.
The past few weeks have been emotional and led Bramlett – who is mixed of black and white descent – to do plenty of “soul-searching.” He grew up in an upper-middle-class family, honed his game at a country club, attended a private high school and studied at Stanford, one of the country’s premier academic institutions. He considers himself fortunate that he hasn’t had many experiences with racism growing up, other than a few dirty looks or the odd run-in with a local junior golf organization. But he wants to use his platform as a professional golfer to help and support others.
“First and foremost, I can be a good role model and I can be someone of understanding,” he said. “I think my heritage is unique in this situation, and I feel like I’ve got a foot on each side of the fence, and I can see where a lot of people are coming from. I’m just really trying to do some soul-searching within myself and just be me. I’m trying to be a good, positive role model and be grateful for where I am, and I’m going to speak up for what I believe. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is anything new.”
When asked why he thought Floyd’s death resonated so deeply, Bramlett said: “The really big deal with this is that we’re in quarantine, so everybody’s sitting in their living room; everyone’s on their phones all day. And you blatantly saw a cop murder a black man right in your living room essentially.
“What people would chalk up to being black urban legends, it brought it right into their living rooms. People were forced to see it, to face it and to think about it. And it pissed a lot of us off. I’m very grateful that the Tour and so many organizations around the country have really supported this.”
The Tour said that the moment of silence was “an effort to amplify the voices and efforts underway to end systemic issues of racial and social injustices impacting our country.” It’ll continue at the same time for the next three rounds.
“It's been a very emotional period," Bramlett said. "I’m really pleased and happy the Tour made a gesture today and had a moment of silence. I thought that was great. I stand by everyone who is protesting and everyone who is in search of social justice and equality for everyone in this country.”