The PGA Tour is leaving the 8:46 a.m. tee time vacant this week at Colonial as part of a tribute to George Floyd and to support efforts to end racial and social injustice.
In a memo to players Tuesday, Commissioner Jay Monahan said there would be a moment of silence in each of the four rounds at the Charles Schwab Challenge that will coincide with the 8:46 a.m. tee time.
The time reflects how long — 8 minutes, 46 seconds — authorities say Floyd was pinned to the ground under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee before the handcuffed black man died.
The PGA Tour has been shut down the last three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it returns at Colonial with attention shared among the health and safety concerns of running a tournament and the civil unrest sparked by Floyd’s death across the country.
Monahan and Harold Varner III, one of three PGA Tour members of black heritage, had a 10-minute conversation last week that the tour posted to its website to try to figure out ways golf could do its part.
“I think there will be discussion. I think some will forget about it. I think so many people will move on,” Varner said Tuesday after arriving at Colonial. “But the conversation I had with Jay when we weren’t being recorded, I think this week won’t be the last week.
“I’m just super fortunate to be able to say something and it matter, but also be a part of the change,” Varner said. “Everyone in this society right now is going to be a part of that.”
Monahan had written a memo last week to staff and players in which he said while it was difficult to figure out what role he should play, “we shouldn’t be deterred.”
The memo said the vacant 8:46 a.m. tee time for the 148-man field was “an effort to amplify the voices and efforts underway to end systemic issues of racial and social injustices impacting our country.”
The moment of silence will start with three short blasts of the horn. The tour is asking players on the course, just arriving or in the practice areas to pause for one minute of reflection “as we pay our respects to the lives lost and also commit ourselves to using the tour platform as past of the solution.”
Monahan also said the tour was working on a long-term financial commitment.
Thomas set for Colonial debut
Justin Thomas said on Tuesday the new world of mandatory testing that golfers underwent this week as the PGA Tour gets set to resume play amid the COVID-19 pandemic was an easy process and one they should get used to.
The American world No. 4, who will make his Charles Schwab Challenge debut at Colonial Country Club in a tournament closed to the general public, said nasal swabs and thermal scans were a small price to pay to get back on the course.
“I would say 2020 is beyond a bizarre year so far, and especially in the world of sports it’s just going to be different,” Thomas said during a virtual news conference from Colonial, where the first round begins on Thursday.
Despite a talent-laden field that is the first of the FedExCup era other than The Players Championship to showcase 100 or more PGA Tour winners, Thomas expects to see a dip in the quality of play.
“The quality of play is going to be all over the place just, again, because of rust, because of how much guys have been practicing but also just being away from competitive golf that long or how they choose to use their time off,” the 27-year-old said.
“You’re going to see definitely a wide variety of scores, not just because of the golf course but just to see who used their time well or not.”
Thomas, who will play the opening two rounds with fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, last competed in late-February at the WGC-Mexico Championship where he finished in a share of sixth place.