OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Golf was played even when other sports in America stopped, and it gave Cameron Champ the chance to speak out at the BMW Championship.
First with his shoes.
Then with strong words about a desire to find a solution to racial injustice.
Champ is one of four Black players on the PGA Tour, and one of only two – the other being Tiger Woods – to reach the second of three events in the FedEx Cup postseason. He arrived at Olympia Fields with a white shoe on his right foot and a black shoe on his left.
The right shoe had the words "Jacob Blake" and "BLM" for the Black Lives Matter movement, in the wake of Blake who was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, approximately 90 miles north of Olympia Fields.
His sneakers read & # 39; Papa Champ & # 39;, his grandfather who died late last year. His grandfather was Black, as was his father, Jeff, who briefly played baseball in the minor league. His grandfather grew up in the South during the Jim Crow era.
"When people say all lives matter, yes, all lives matter, but so does Black," Champ said. "It's a situation where, again, as a country, as a whole, we've dug some kind of hole. Now that media and people are videotaping and seeing things, it's starting to come to life. People are starting to talk about it, and that's it. Good. Without dialogue, without talking about it, nothing will happen.
"It's a good start, but of course there are still a lot of things going on that frankly shouldn't happen at all," he said "It just has to end."
Champ was one of the few players who were below par halfway through the opening round of the BMW Championship until his round left him. He had two double bogeys in the front nine for a 42 putting him in danger of missing the Tour Championship next week.
Hideki Matsuyama made a 65-foot birdie putt on his last hole on Thursday to lead the BMW Championship.
Matsuyama, a Japanese player who three years ago since his last win, it birded two of his last three holes for a 3-under-par 67, one of only three rounds below par on a course that was long, tough, firm, fast and unlike the last two weeks.
"I don't know exactly what I did today, but that last putt, the long putt that went in, was very happy with it," Matsuyama said. "So we'll remember that."
Dustin Johnson, who last week won The Northern Trust with 30 under par, opened with a 71. He was told that even three consecutive rounds of 60 are not enough to hit 30 under at Olympia Fields.
"Yes, but I would win," he said.
Woods must finish around fourth to have any hope of returning to East Lake after that week in Atlanta to get the $ bonus. 15 million for the FedEx Cup winner. He even floated a few shots out of the lead. Woods finished with three straight bogeys for a 73 and got warmer than the weather.
Woods, three-time champion of the US Open, knows all about control and patience and key pars putts, and then he dropped a reasonable round off.
“The course was fine. The course is in perfect condition. Not the way I wanted to end, "Woods said in short comments.
The event has no spectators, but Champ had a gallery on Thursday with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan for the last few holes of his first nine holes. Monahan followed. Wednesday night developments when the NBA didn't play three playoff games, and other sports soon followed. Postponing the BMW Championship, even for a day, didn't seem to be part of the conversation.
Woods said he was in contact with Monahan about whether or not to play and "all the boys were on board."
"It was clearly talked about because of what happened," Woods said. "But we're all up to it. board, same page. ”
The PGA Tour released a statement before the round began that it supported the“ player-led, peaceful and powerful ways ”that the other leagues – NBA, MLB, football, WNBA and lady ntennis – tried to bring about change.
"The PGA Tour supports them – and all of our own members – in standing up for issues they believe in," the statement said.
The tour said in June, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, that it is committed to racial equality and inclusion in the cities where it plays and that it would increase support for national movements. Monahan and golfer Justin Varner, who is black, took part in a video discussion about racing after Varner posted on social media a description of his experiences growing up as a black golfer in Gastonia, NC
Tony Finau, who is from Tongan and of Samoan descent, and has spoken of discrimination because of the color of his skin. His cousin is Sacramento Kings forward Jabari Parker.
Finau said it never occurred to him not to play Thursday, but he appreciated the magnitude of what the N.B.A. was doing and boycotting what, and I know the PGA Tour fully supports that. "
" It's a conversation that's awkward, sensitive to our country, "said Finau." But if we don't want that, I don't think we can move on as a country. I am open to talking to anyone about this matter, and again I think we fully support what the N.B.A. did. "