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After a three-month absence for the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA Tour returned on Thursday to a different world.
The tour’s best golfers not named Tiger Woods teed off at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday for the first tournament since The Players Championship was canceled mid-tournament on March 12.
They did so without a gallery, as fans remained barred while the coronavirus maintains its foothold in the United States. And they saved the 8:46 a.m. tee time to commemorate George Floyd, whose death on May 25 has sparked a reckoning on race relations in the United States.
8:46 tee time reserved for George Floyd
The 8:46 tee time represents the amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is accused of holding his knee on Floyd’s neck in the moments leading up to his death. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges for the incident.
"As the PGA Tour commits to amplifying voices and efforts to end systemic issues of racial and social injustices, we have reserved the 8:46 tee time to pause for a moment of silence, prayer and reflection," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said before the somber moment.
Play then stopped as golfers bowed their heads.
McIlroy talks growing up with black golf hero
Woods, who broke down racial barriers in the sport long associated with white players and country clubs, is not playing at the Charles Schwab Challenge this weekend.
But Rory McIlroy is. And he talked about what it meant to him growing up idolizing a black golf hero.
“My hero growing up was Tiger Woods,” McIlroy told the Associated Press. “Tiger doesn't look the same as me, has a different upbringing to the one that I have had, but he was my hero growing up. And it didn't matter what color his skin was, what his beliefs were.
“Tiger was my hero, and he's been a lot of kids' hero over the years that have grown up playing golf. We've been lucky to have him in our game. I think that there should be more people like him in golf.”
Woods’ influence on the game hasn’t necessarily made the Tour more diverse as golf still struggles with integrating the game in the United States.
Monahan told AP that diversifying golf remains a focus for the Tour.
“There's an opportunity for us, as kids start to matriculate, for us to make certain that they're getting access to the game of golf to play it, and access to the industry of golf.”
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