Korn Ferry Awards Sponsor Exemption to Willie Mack III for Korn Ferry Tour’s 2021 Huntsville Championship
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Willie Mack III, a 32-year-old native of Flint, Mich., who boasts 65 mini-tour victories in a professional career predominantly spent on the Florida Professional Golf Tour and APGA Tour, has received a sponsor exemption from Korn Ferry into the 2021 Huntsville Championship, the Korn Ferry Tour announced today.
“We are excited that Korn Ferry has elected to award a sponsor exemption to Willie Mack III, who has overcome incredibly difficult circumstances away from the golf course just to make it to this point in his career,” said Penn Garvich, Tournament Director for the Huntsville Championship. “Willie has more than earned this opportunity, and we look forward to watching him compete against golf’s rising stars here in Huntsville.”
The Huntsville Championship, which begins Thursday, April 29 at The Ledges in Huntsville, Ala., will be Mack’s second career Korn Ferry Tour appearance. Mack previously broke the Shorewood Country Club course record with a 12-under-par 60 at a Monday qualifier for the 2018 LECOM Health Challenge.
Mack also made a pair of PGA TOUR starts this season. His TOUR debut came via a sponsor exemption at January’s Farmers Insurance Open. Three weeks later, Mack competed at The Genesis Invitational as the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption recipient. Since 2009, The exemption has been given to a golfer representing a minority background to play in the annual PGA TOUR event at The Riviera Country Club.
Mack’s accomplishments include winning the 2019 Lexus Cup Player of the Year on the APGA Tour, the growing event series focused on driving diversity in the sport of golf. He is also currently the leading money winner on the Florida Professional Golf Tour. Kamaiu Johnson, another APGA Tour rising star, is playing this week as a sponsor exemption in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Emerald Coast Classic at Sandestin in Florida.
“I want to thank Korn Ferry and the Huntsville Championship for providing me a sponsor exemption into this event,” said Mack. “My dream since I started playing golf has been to reach the PGA TOUR, and the opportunity I have now to go and win this tournament could move me one step closer to achieving my ultimate goal.”
Mack’s amateur career was highlighted by 11 individual titles at Bethune-Cookman University, an HBCU program in Daytona Beach, Fla. Mack also helped the Wildcats win the 2008 NCAA Minority Championship. In 2011, Mack became the first Black golfer to win the Michigan Amateur Championship. After turning professional and hitting the mini-tours, Mack led the Florida Professional Golf Tour’s money list in 2011. Due to financial hardships, much of Mack’s time rounding the Florida mini-tours was spent couch surfing or curled up in the backseat of his 2013 Ford Mustang; he often went to hotel parking lots and slept in the car overnight to preserve what little money he had. Mack eventually found refuge with a couple in Florida until he was able to get an apartment of his own.
In 2018, Mack finished T5 at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament and earned full status for the first half of the season. Mack made just two starts before the financial burden left him unable to carry on.
Later in the year, while driving back from a tournament, Mack’s car caught fire and exploded on the side of the highway. Mack lost nearly all his personal possessions, only managing to grab his golf clubs from the trunk before the explosion. Mack now has a two-year sponsorship agreement with Farmers Insurance which helps cover his expenses on the Florida Professional Golf Tour and APGA Tour. Golf Channel’s Ryan Laver recently documented Mack’s journey to the highest levels of professional golf. Follow this link to read the riveting story.
For more 2021 Huntsville Championship information, visit https://huntsvillechampionship.com/.
About Korn Ferry Tour
Founded (1990), owned and operated by the PGA TOUR, the Korn Ferry Tour identifies and develops golf’s next stars, preparing them to compete and win on the game’s biggest stage. The Korn Ferry Tour, which has served as a path to the PGA TOUR since its inception, began providing 50 PGA TOUR cards annually in 2013. Each season, the top 25 players secure PGA TOUR cards via the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season and an additional 25 players secure promotion through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. With more than 550 PGA TOUR titles and 24 major championships, Korn Ferry Tour alumni make up over 75 percent of the PGA TOUR’s current membership. To learn more about the PGA TOUR, the Korn Ferry Tour and to follow the season-long quest for a PGA TOUR card, visit PGATOUR.COM or follow the Korn Ferry Tour on social media.