When Tiger Woods bolted to superstardom by winning the Masters in 1997, it was said he would be a Pied Piper, leading an infusion of African-Americans into the sport. But 16 years later, Woods remains the lone African-American on the PGA Tour.
If anything, Woods' influence has been more pronounced in Asia, where a generation of players who idolized him as children are now making an impact.
At the Northern Telecom Open on Thursday, an African-American player, Jeremiah Wooding, will tee off courtesy of a special exemption. For the last five years, the NTO has reserved a spot for a minority player, honoring 1969 winner Charlie Sifford, a former caddie who rose to prominence on the tour.
Wooding, a former player at UNLV, is one of two African-Americans on the developmental Web.com Tour. The other, Joseph Bramlett, received the NTO exemption in 2011. Bramlett's claim to fame? In 2010, he became the first African-American in a quarter century to advance to the PGA Tour via Qualifying School, demonstrating the dearth of prospective African-Americans in golf.
- Kevin Dunleavy