APGA enthusiasm grows around Willie Mack’s recent success on the TOUR
SILVIS, Illinois – Two words – a name, in fact – drew a broad smile Sunday from Alex Stewart who answered a question that had yet to be asked.
The mere mention of Willie Mack carries that sort of motto these days on the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour, which will continue its race to the Lexus Cup with the penultimate event on the program, the APGATour Deere Run, on Monday and Tuesday. .
The 36-hole tournament is played on the TPC Deere Run course where Mack scored his second PGA TOUR record just eight days ago at the John Deere Classic. It will serve as a prelude to the APGA Tour of Atlanta Championship August 9-10 at TPC Sugar Loaf in Duluth, Georgia.
Highlighted by a round of 66 on Friday, Mack finished 61st at the Deere. This followed a 71st place finish a week earlier at the Rocket Mortgage Classic near his hometown of Flint, Michigan, following a T62 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am of the Korn Ferry TOUR June 10-13 in Greer, SC The three departures took place via exemptions from the promoter.
The $ 31,143 Mack won from those three events would not cover a third of the cost of chartering private jets Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa and many American players returned from Sandwich, England on Sunday night. Still, for Mack – who spent a year and a half of his nine years on various mini-tour circuits sleeping in his car – this represents a godsend.
For Stewart and the 58 other competitors in the APGATour Deere Run, the example of Mack’s month-long success at the top of the game is simply priceless.
Stewart plays as an amateur on the APGA Tour while awaiting his senior season at Livingstone College in Greer, NC Like Mack and the other black and minority golfers competing on the APGA Tour, the PGA TOUR is his focus.
“It’s not a pipe dream anymore,” said Stewart of the possibility of moving from APGA to TOUR. “That’s the reality. I was at work on a golf course at home, sitting in an office next to the John Deere, thinking, ‘Wow, Willie is doing it.’ You see him birdie four in nine holes and you’re like, “OK, maybe he’s ready to be on the TOUR. Two cuts back to back? How can’t he be?”
Prince Cunningham will make his first APGA start as a pro this week after completing his college career at Florida A&M in June. Mack’s recent success is inspiring.
“It’s definitely an amazing thing he did,” he said. “Being a young golfer who just graduated from college gives you something to watch. If he did, I can do it. It’s a tough dream, but it’s worth it if you stick to it.
Mack, 32, knows his quest is far from over, but he’s never been so close. He started working with Todd Anderson, director of instruction at PGA TOUR’s Performance Center at TPC Sawgrass, earlier this year and will compete in the three-stop Korn Ferry TOUR qualifying tournament in late August with the opportunity to the experience and success it has enjoyed an.
Focus on the opportunity.
Mack has felt equally ready at various times since turning pro after an 11-game winning career at Bethune Cookman University in 2012. In 2019, Mack was player of the year on the Florida Professional Golf Tour. , and he will seek his fourth place atop the APGA points standings next month in Atlanta.
“Yes and no,” he said, when asked if race and economic stature had hindered his pursuit of a career on the PGA TOUR. “I always say things go the way they’re supposed to. I’m glad I was able to get these opportunities now.
Creating opportunities is the goal of the Advocates Professional Golf Association. It was launched in 2008 as a nonprofit organization led by CEO Ken Bentley, who retired as Vice President of Community Affairs and Workforce Diversity at Nestlé USA in 2013.
The APGA Tour debuted in 2010 as a two-tournament tour offering a total of $ 40,000 in prizes. Today, the tour includes 10 events offering more than $ 500,000 in total purses, and is supported by the PGA TOUR, the PGA of America, Farmers Insurance and Lexus, among others.
Five clubs in the TPC network – Deere Run, Sugar Loaf, as well as TPC Louisiana, TPC Scottsdale and TPC Las Vegas – serve as tournament venues. A 27-hole event is being staged at the Torrey Pines North course on the Saturday of the Farmers Insurance Open, and this year Farmers Insurance signed Mack and his fellow APGA Tourer, Kamaiu Johnson, to multi-year sponsorship deals. Mack made his first start on the PGA TOUR at the Farmers in January, but did not make the cut. He also missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational three weeks later.
Executive Director Cole Smith said the opportunity to participate in APGA events on TOUR caliber courses has increased the profile of the APGA, as well as player interest.
“It’s a unique experience for our guys. Membership applications are skyrocketing, ”he said. “We have come a long way and are excited about what the future holds. “
More excited following Willie Mack’s summer run.
“I hope this inspires other players to try and do the same,” Mack said. “There are a lot of talented people here. Just seizing these opportunities can certainly change some minds.
Certainly, Mack feels ready after years to pursue his dream.