THOUSAND OAKS, Calif .– The North Course at Torrey Pines is usually busy with a pro-am Saturday for players who miss the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open. This year he presented an 18 hole competition for the young Advocates Pro Golf Association.
Now the APGA Tour is gaining even more momentum.
The Farmers Insurance Open announced on Tuesday that Kamaiu Johnson, who won the APGA Tour Championship last year, has received a sponsor exemption to play his first PGA Tour event next year.
The APGA Tour was created 10 years ago to prepare black golfers and other minorities to compete and gain greater access to the golf industry. This year at Torrey was the first time an event had been held at a PGA Tour venue. The North and South routes are used for the first two laps.
Farmers Insurance funded the events of the APGA Tour and sponsored two players, Johnson and Willie Mack III.
“We value diversity and are proud to help support the APGA Tour in its mission to level the playing field for many talented golfers,” said Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers. “The APGA Tour does an incredible job in developing golf and we are delighted to be able to offer Kamaiu the chance to participate in his very first PGA Tour tournament.
Johnson, who finished in the top 10 of the last five APGA events last year, grew up in a small town in Florida and played on a youth baseball team with former Chicago Cubs All-Star Addison Russell. But he dropped out of eighth grade because he was placed in a class for slow learners and felt demolished.
Living with his grandmother in a crowded two-bedroom apartment near a golf course, he was spotted swinging a club by the town’s golf director Jan Auger. She made him a deal. If he helped out in the club, he could play for $ 1 per round. For the next five years, Johnson practically lived in Hilaman Park, perfecting his game.
With ten mini-round victories, he has won the Tallahassee Open three times. Now he’ll face the best in the world, an area that typically includes Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
“When I spoke to Jeff virtually and he told me about the exemption, I was in shock,” Johnson said. “Earlier this year I said I wanted to be back at Torrey Pines but playing in the South Course and now that statement is a reality. The opportunity to participate in the Farmers Insurance Open is the culmination of a lot of work I put into the game, but also the sacrifice and help of so many others.