When Joseph Bramlett birdied five holes in the middle of his round on Monday, moving inside the number required to cement his rookie status on the PGA tour in 2011, he became the first player of African-American descent to play his way through Qualifying School in 25 long, lean, incomprehensible years.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard my dad cry before,” Bramlett said.
It’s been 13-years since Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. His victory generated legions of new television fans, millions in golf related product sales and more requests to integrate golf opportunities into the conference plans of many African-American organizations.
While the so-called “Tiger Effect” spawned a new generation of golf fans, its impact within the African-American community never took shape at the game’s most elite levels. Since that historic victory at Augusta National Golf Club, Woods has remained the lone player of African-American heritage to own PGA Tour playing privileges.
By posting an 11-under total through six rounds at the PGA Tour’s annual Qualifying Tournament, Bramlett earned his card Monday for the upcoming 2011 season.
Bramlett has been conducting interviews all week on the social implications of what he faced this week and delivered the goods in special fashion. He said he’s more than ready to carry the banner formerly championed by guys like Charlie Sifford, Jim Thorpe and Calvin Peete.
“It’s an honor, it truly is an honor,” Bramlett said. “Like I’ve said before, it’s been a long time. I’m just thrilled to see it start to change.”