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Bramlett not a pioneer, just wants to be player
Question of the Day
HONOLULU (AP) - Joseph Bramlett waited for room to open up on the tiny practice range at Waialae Country Club, just like any other PGA Tour player. Typical of most rookies, he felt most comfortable being around players he knew from college and amateur days.
“Every kid like myself grows up wanting to play on the PGA Tour, playing on the biggest stage,” Bramlett said. “This is what I’ve trained for and prepared for my whole life. It’s very exciting for me. I’ve got a lot of opportunities.”
Whatever he gets out of golf, the Stanford graduate already is putting back in before he even turns in a scorecard. In a sport desperate for diversity, he is the first PGA Tour member of black heritage since Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996.
Bramlett doesn’t see himself differently from any other rookie, much less any other player.
Even so, he is willing to embrace the questions that are sure to follow. He had more media duties than any other player on a rain-soaked Wednesday at the Sony Open. And though he is more interested in the scores on his card than the color of his skin, Bramlett believes he can help make a difference.
“I certainly think numbers will help,” Bramlett said. “If you have more fresh and different faces out there … in terms of the public eye, I don’t know how significantly it will change. But I think when you can have little kids growing up and seeing that there is such a diverse group of people on the PGA Tour, it can truly inspire kids to think that, ‘I can do it, too.’”
Bramlett is among 26 rookies who are part of the 144-man field at the Sony Open, which is to begin Thursday depending on the weather. The course was closed Wednesday on the eve of the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season, and with more rain in the forecast, the question was whether the course will drain well enough to play.
Bramlett signed an endorsement deal with Nike. His caddie is A.J. Montecinos, who was on the bag for Y.E. Yang when the South Korean took down Woods at the PGA Championship in 2009 and became the first Asian to win a major.
And he can always lean on Woods, whom he already sees as a mentor.
Bramlett competed in the Junior World Championship with a team sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation. As a freshman, he sat in Woods‘ living room and listened to stories with the rest of the Stanford golf team when the Cardinal played a tournament at Isleworth. They hooked up again when Woods came to Stanford during the Presidents Cup at Harding Park.
“He’s been awesome for me,” Bramlett said. “He’s really just kind of mentored me in ways that truly helped my game and just growing up as a young person.”
Like Woods, Bramlett comes from a multiracial family _ his father is black, his mother is white. He was attracted to golf not through social inspiration, but just like so many other players on tour: His father introduced him to the game while growing up in San Jose, Calif.
Woods was an influence by winning the Masters in 1997, and Bramlett’s father used to take him to watch Woods at Stanford. And when they finally met, he credits Woods for motivating him to work through injuries.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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