Richy Werenski’s return to the PGA Tour after injuring his wrist in 2019 has been one of the better stories in the golf world.
The native of Springfield, Massachusetts, has made all four cuts since golf returned from its lengthy pandemic break, and Werenski’s rise reached a crescendo in Blaine, Minnesota, this week as he was in the final pairing on Sunday for the 3M Open.
Werenski made an interesting statement, however, when he chose to wear a “Blue Lives Matter” wristband this week at TPC Twin Cities, just miles from where George Floyd’s death sparked a national Black Lives Matter movement.
Floyd’s death, ruled a homicide by a county medical examiner and by an independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family, fueled outrage nationwide. A bystander’s video that showed now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes has circulated widely since Floyd’s Memorial Day death.
Werenski, according to his profile on PGATour,com, comes from a family of avid golfers. His father, Michael, was formerly a PGA club professional and his brother, Mickey, played on the Texas A&M golf team.
Werenski’s big break came when he won the Golf Channel’s “Big Break The Palm Beaches,” which aired early in 2015.
The PGA Tour has worked hard to connect with the Black community through the protests, including an empty 8:46 a.m. tee time at both the Charles Schwab Challenge and the Korn Ferry Tour Challenge the week after the death.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, 8:46 has become a symbol for the racial injustice faced by the black community, and the PGA Tour says it wants to do its part to help move forward.
On the PGA Tour’s official website, it reads:
As part of ongoing efforts to amplify the voices and efforts underway to end racial and social injustice, the TOUR has set aside an 8:46 a.m. tee time that will feature no players. The time has been set aside at both Colonial Country Club (Charles Schwab Challenge) and TPC Sawgrass (Korn Ferry Tour Challenge), as 8:46 has become a universal symbol for the racial injustice faced by the black community.
The week after Floyd’s death, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said: “For me, I spent last weekend calling around to my black colleagues and black friends, people that I thought that I could really learn from and I, at that time, I felt vulnerable. I didn’t understand in a world where people say, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ I didn’t understand what the solution was in the short term, but I was committed to make certain I was part of identifying it as supporting it. So for me stepping back and trying to listen to those people that have been affected was the best place to start.”