Mack III builds experience ahead of Genesis Invitational
January 29, 2021
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR – The CUT
Get to Know: Willie Mack III
SAN DIEGO – A few days ago, Willie Mack III was expecting to play Torrey Pines North on Saturday as part of the APGA (Advocates Professional Golf Association) schedule. He finished up his first PGA TOUR event there instead.
Mack III received an 11th-hour sponsor exemption into the Farmers Insurance Open after his fellow APGA professional, Kamaiu Johnson, tested positive for COVID-19. Johnson said he has only suffered mild symptoms and his mother's condition has improved after she was hospitalized in Florida with the coronavirus.
Mack acquitted himself well in his TOUR debut. He was 1 under through 14 holes on the tougher South Course in Thursday’s opening round before dropping three shots late to card a 2-over 74. On Friday, in tough weather conditions, Mack battled his way to a 75 to ultimately miss the cut.
But with another start upcoming at The Genesis Invitational via the Charlie Sifford Memorial exemption, Mack III gained plenty of valuable experience at Torrey Pines.
“It was exciting. It was a good week. I think I hit four fairways, so other than that, every other part of my game was pretty good,” Mack said. “I can't thank Jeff Dailey, the CEO or Farmers, enough for just letting me and Kamaiu have an opportunity to get out here. It's our dream to be out here and I can't wait for the Genesis in three weeks.”
Johnson will still get an opportunity to showcase his game on the PGA TOUR. He has received sponsor exemptions into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in two weeks and also has been offered an invite to The Honda Classic. He also received a sponsor's exemption into the Korn Ferry Tour's Emerald Coast Classic at Sandestin in April.
Mack and Johnson both became Farmers Insurance brand ambassadors last year. Mack is a former Michigan Amateur champion and was the 2019 APGA Player of the Year, winning two of the seven events he entered. Mack currently leads the Florida Professional Golf Tour and will continue playing their events in addition to a full APGA Tour season in 2021.
Removing the financial burden associated with the game is a top priority for both Farmers and the APGA Tour. Ensuring players have access to the tools and support they need allows them to better focus on competing. For players like Johnson and Mack, the support Farmers provides APGA Tour athletes can be invaluable.
Mack’s exemption was the latest example of Farmers' support for the APGA Tour and its players. The national insurer has provided funding for APGA Tour events and the organization’s athletes, sponsored players, including Johnson and Mack, and for the second consecutive year will host an APGA Tour event on Torrey Pines' North Course while the PGA TOUR competes on the South Course in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
The 27-hole contest has an elevated $55,000 purse and begins at 7 a.m. local time. While Johnson and Mack are not in the field, others involved include Mulbe Dillard, a senior at Florida A&M.
Dillard debuts at No. 1 in the newly-formed APGA Collegiate Ranking created by the PGA TOUR and the APGA Tour. This ranking will help top Black college golfers’ transition to the professional ranks by easing the financial burden of playing developmental tours and Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
Dillard leads the APGA Collegiate Ranking for Black golfers in NCAA Division I, II and III. The top five seniors in the annual ranking will receive summer status on the APGA Tour and an exemption into the pre-qualifying stage for Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
Kevin Hall, 37, also is in Saturday's APGA event. Hall, who is deaf, is a former Big Ten champion at Ohio State. He has played several PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour events over the course of his career and was a former recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption at The Genesis Invitational. In recent years, he has won three times on the APGA Tour. His father, Percy Hall, caddies and signs for him, and will be joining Kevin at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open Invitational.
Hall also will play the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on a sponsor's exemption.