In an unforeseen development which will shake the world of sport to its core and cause further embarrassment to President Donald Trump, a number of the world’s leading golfers have chosen to demonstrate their solidarity with black victims of police violence by ‘taking a knee’. The golfers’ gesture will surprise those who saw the sport as one which would be resistant to political pressure. It will be politically disappointing for Mr Trump, as he is, like his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un, a major golf enthusiast, to the point where he has so far spent over two months of his term on the course.
The first golfer to join the protests was current world number 1 Dustin Johnson, who remarked “I cannot stand by while people of colour are treated with contempt by law enforcement officers and denied justice. It is quite frankly unconscionable”.
Johnson’s playing partner, three-time Major champion Jordan Spieth, was quick to join in. He said: “The response this week by certain sections of white America to the mere act of black sportspeople peacefully protesting what they rightly see as race-based injustice has been extremely unedifying. As a leading golfer it behoves me to stand up for my fellow Americans.”
Justin Thomas, winner of four PGA tour events, took the knee during the President’s Cup golf tournament in New Jersey. He said that he was “proud to take part.”
He was joined by the winner of that competition, Steve Stricker, who told a subsequent press conference organised by Black Lives Matter that “As a human being, an American and a public figure, I had no hesitation in making this gesture. The rebirth of white supremacy, especially since this current administration took power, is both terrifying and deeply, deeply shameful.”
2017 Open Champion Brooks Koepka looked sombre as he knelt on the immaculate putting lawn at Florida’s Olympia Fields. He made no comment to the press, but did give a black power salute to the assembled crowd after completing the 18th hole.
Veteran golfer Matt Kuchar, who has won 13 titles throughout his lengthy career, said it was essential for someone of his stature to show an example to younger players, especially people of colour who aspire to play golf.
PGA tour star Rickie Fowler said that “as a Christian” he “would have been embarrassed if he hadn’t” taken a knee during the British Master’s event at Close House.
Tiger Woods also took part, subsequently stating via Twitter “#fuckDonaldTrump”.
A surprise participant in the protests was President Donald Trump himself, who commented “Racism is and always has been endemic to the American project, and my presidency is vivid living proof of that. Our country is literally unimaginable without plundered labour shackled to plundered land, without the organising principle of whiteness as citizenship, without the culture crafted by the plundered, and without that culture itself being plundered. This has to end. I am a disgrace”.