Masters' Champ upset at controversial Georgia voter law
Augusta (United States) (AFP) –
Cameron Champ has grown accustomed to explaining racial issues at golf events and he handed out a few more lessons Tuesday at Augusta National ahead of the 85th Masters.
Champ, whose mother is white and father is biracial, is the only American golfer of Black heritage at the Masters and a champion of golf diversity at age 25.
So while such stars as Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were saying they wanted everyone to be able to vote but didn't know enough details about Georgia's controversial new voter law, Champ was ripping into it.
"As you can tell, it really targets certain black communities and makes it harder to vote, which to me it's everyone's right to vote. For me to see that, it's very shocking," Champ said.
Champ, who shared 19th last year in his Masters debut and shared 10th in last year's PGA Championship, noted last week's decision by Major League Baseball to move its All-Star Game from Atlanta over the voting law.
The new law requires greater identification rules for voters, bans handing water to those waiting in line and limits remote ballot boxes. Critics say the legislation is designed to make it harder for Black voters to cast ballots.
"MLB and what they did and moving the All-Star Game was a big statement," Champ said. "I know there's a bunch of other organizations and companies that have moved things. This week I'll definitely be supporting doing some things throughout the week."
Asked if he thought Augusta National should comment about the issue, Champ replied, "I would think so."
Champ said he seldom brings up politics on the driving range at US PGA events, seeing everyone as entitled to their opinions.
"I try to avoid that at all costs," he said. "I think with anybody, even family, we'll start fighting."
But he is moved to words for racial injustice and social equality.
"For certain subjects, whether it be equality or injustice, stuff like that, I'll definitely speak up. As far as politics, I try to stay out of it as much as I can," he said. "There's not many people who are willing to talk about it. So you're never going to hear it."
When he walked out one day with the names of Black victims of police shootings on his shoes, he had more questions than recognition.
"I remember walking onto the range, and I had Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake on my shoes, and I got asked by three different people, 'Who are they?'" Champ said. "To me, that proves the point of why I'm doing it.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but I think everything is going the right direction."
Champ, twice a winner on the US PGA Tour, feels compelled to be outspoken on racial injustice matters.
"It's not that I like to be. It's something I feel like I have to do. It's who I am," he said.
"It's a subject that hasn't been brought up since everything has happened. It just kind of gets pushed to the back burner like it does always."
"Social injustice or equality or race, it's only talked about when bad incidents happen, which is kind of unfortunate. Just got to keep pushing."
- 'Hopefully in the next' -
Champ recalled a conversation with Lee Elder, the first Black player at the Masters who will hit a ceremonial tee shot Thursday.
"I remember just his wisdom," Champ said. "Pretty mind-blowing for him to say he actually felt comfortable because he knew, once he got in the gates, he was safe.
"It's just what he had to go through as a human being to play the game and just to endure that for so long. It shows a lot about him and his character."
Champ is helping fund a college golf program at a historically black college as Augusta National and NBA star Stephen Curry are doing.
"In order to see more minorities and more people of color out here, something has to change," Champ said, recalling his days as the only minority junior golfer.
"It's a great start, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime, but hopefully in the next."
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