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Star golfers speak out on Georgia’s new restrictive voting law ahead of the Masters

Signed into law last month, the election legislation imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.

“I have to be respectful and somewhat careful what I say because I’m not a citizen of this country, but I certainly think all great countries and democracies are built on equal voting rights and everyone being able to get to the ballot boxes as easily as possible,” four-time major winner Rory McIlroy told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’m all for getting people to get out and vote and to have a great democracy, and I’ve chosen to live in this country because I believe this country is the best country in the world. You know, America is the land of opportunity and it’s the American dream. You work hard; you get rewarded. So I believe in all of that stuff.

“But yeah, I’m all for people being able to have the right to vote and to be able to do it in the easiest way possible.”

The PGA Tour has already said it won’t be moving the season-ending Tour Championship from Atlanta this year, scheduled for September 2-5, saying it has a financial commitment to the charities and the local community.

Collin Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship winner, praised the work the PGA does and believes the voting law should be the main focus of conversations this week when the eyes of the world are watching golf.

“This voter stuff and voter for American citizens is very important,” he told reporters. “I think that’s the topic we should all be talking about. We shouldn’t be talking about whether we’re here or not. The Masters, the PGA Tour, we do such a good job and we’re trying to help communities out and I think that’s our main focus for the week.

“But overall the topic of voter rights and all that, that should be the topic that we talk about, not if we are here playing golf. We are trying to do our best to help out communities and obviously give back to what we are doing for the week, and that’s our ability to travel around the entire world and around the US and give back and give opportunities, like I said earlier.

“Those opportunities are really important.”

In response to the new law — which has been widely criticized by voting rights advocates, civil rights groups and private businesses in the state — Major League Baseball announced it would be moving the 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado.

Cameron Champ, one of golf’s brightest prospects and two-time winner on the Tour, says the new law is “shocking” and “frustrating.”

“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,” he said. “For me to see that, it’s very shocking. Obviously, with MLB and what they did and moving the All-Star Game was a big statement. I know there’s a bunch of other organizations and companies that have moved things.

“Again, this is a prestigious event, and I know there’s a lot going on with it and the people involved with it. But, again, yeah, it was definitely a little bit frustrating to see that. This week, I’ll definitely be supporting doing some things throughout the week.”

US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau added that diversity and inclusion is “incredibly important” for golf.

“I think the most important thing we can do is treat everyone equally, and I think growing up, my dad told me that no matter what, you’re going to treat everyone the way you want to be treated,” he said.

“From my perspective, what’s going on now, I think you look at Augusta National and the PGA Tour and what we’ve been doing to grow the community and grow the sport and grow the charities that we’re able to give back to.

“I think that’s one of the most important things that we need to look at and start looking at this tournament and this championship as a positive light to the community, positive light to the world and an opportunity to show people the great entertainment that we can provide to the world. I think that’s one of the most important things.”

Dianne Gallagher and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.



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