LOS ANGELES -- Andy Walker has been awarded the 2012 Northern Trust Open Exemption and will make his first-career start on the PGA TOUR next month, tournament officials announced at Riviera Country Club. A graduate of Pepperdine University and a member of the school's NCAA Champion Men's Golf Team in 1997, Walker was most recently a participant on Big Break Ireland on Golf Channel.
With the 2012 Northern Trust Open less than a month away, Walker, a 36-year old from Phoenix, Ariz., was chosen from a pool of applicants to receive the exemption, created and sponsored by Northern Trust (Nasdaq: NTRS). The annual exemption provides an opportunity for a top golfer who represents the advancement of diversity in golf and wouldn't otherwise be eligible to compete in the event. The 2012 Northern Trust Open returns to Pacific Palisades, Calif., and Riviera Country Club February 14-19.
"We're pleased to extend the 2012 Northern Trust Open Exemption to Andy Walker," said Northern Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick H. Waddell. "Andy's playing record, both as an amateur and professional, along with his dedication to the game through his work as a PGA Professional and with the Joyner-Walker Foundation, makes him a most deserving recipient of this unique exemption."
Walker is the fourth recipient of the Northern Trust Open Exemption, following Vincent Johnson (2009), Joshua Wooding (2010) and Joseph Bramlett (2011).
"Playing the PGA TOUR has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I look forward to competing against the game's best next month at the Northern Trust Open," Walker said. "For years, I've strived to represent myself, my family, my community and my heritage in golf the best way I know how. A goal of mine is to use my knowledge of the game to improve the quality of instruction and caliber of facilities for those who otherwise could not afford them.. I want to produce or inspire future TOUR players from my community, and I'm hopeful that playing in the Northern Trust Open will help me do that. I'm extremely grateful to Northern Trust, not only for affording me this opportunity, but also for instituting an exemption that helps promote and encourage diversity in golf."
Heavily recruited following high school and junior golf, Walker began his collegiate career at Scottsdale Community College, but transferred to Pepperdine University after competing with Jason Gore at the Pacific Coast Amateur the summer after his freshman year. Walker and Gore helped Pepperdine capture the 1997 NCAA Championship. Both are now in the field at the Northern Trust Open after Gore received a sponsor's exemption earlier this month.
Over a 12-year professional career, Walker has won tournaments all over the world and has spent the last three years competing on various mini tours, including the Gateway Tour and the Canadian Tour. In 2007, Walker and longtime friend and former NFL player Seth Joyner created the Joyner-Walker Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing life skill programs for high school and college students. The foundation organizes celebrity golf tournaments to benefit local charities.
Now in its fourth year, the Northern Trust Open Exemption is an extension of Northern Trust's commitment to diversity. Northern Trust has received multiple awards for corporate excellence and diversity, including being named a "Best Company for Working Mothers" by Working Mother Magazine for 20 years, a "Best Company for Diverse Graduates" by Diversity Edge Magazine, a "50 Best Companies for Latinas" by LATINA Style Magazine and one of the " 40 Best Companies for Diversity" by Black Enterprise magazine.
Candidates for the 2012 Northern Trust Open Exemption were identified through a number of sources including the PGA TOUR, PGA of America through the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, Nationwide Tour, The First Tee, World Golf Foundation, USGA and the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association, with additional outreach efforts to potential recipients of Hispanic and Asian descent both in the United States and internationally.
Candidates were asked to provide general biographical information, details of their golf accomplishments and an explanation of how they have represented the advancement of diversity in golf. In order to qualify for the exemption, applicants but have a USGA handicap of zero or better.
The Northern Trust Open has a long history of promoting inclusion among minorities. In 1952, the tournament welcomed Joe Louis as the first African-American to compete in a PGA sanctioned event. In 2009, the inaugural tournament exemption was named in honor of Charlie Sifford on the 40th anniversary of his victory at the 1969 Northern Trust Open.
For Northern Trust Open ticket information, visit www.northerntrustopen.com.