Willie Mack III's inspirational rise through golf will be capped off by making his PGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open.
The 32-year-old has endured trials and tribulations throughout his career as a young, aspiring golfer but will be given the opportunity to tee off following Kamaiu Johnson's withdrawal after testing positive for COVID-19.
For many years, Mack has played in mini-tour golf across the US and has been given a handful of starts in the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and Korn Ferry Tour. He had been due to appear next month at the Genesis Invitational, having received the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption, an accolade created to increase diversity in golf.
A last minute sponsor invite, which only came on Tuesday after Johnson's withdrawal, prompted disappointment from Mack for his fellow Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour (APGA) golfer.
"I know it's a dream come true for both of us to get our first two starts the next four weeks and it's just an unfortunate situation," Mack started. "I'm friends with Kamaiu [Johnson], so I talk to him all the time.
"I know he was so excited to play this week and I was cheering him on. I'm just going to go out there this week and not only play for me, but also play for him."
Mack was awarded with the 2019 Player of the Year on the APGA Tour - a non-profit organisation whose mission is to bring greater diversity to the game of golf.
"I started playing golf around six and just started playing with my dad because of Tiger Woods. Went to college, played at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and transferred over to my professional career," said Mack, on his journey to reaching the level he is at now.
"It kind of started out a little shaky for the first couple years, living in my car for about a year and a half, just struggling, travelling around, trying to make ends meet, and now we're here today.
"It's always a struggle kind of starting out, having no sponsors. I think it was 2011 was the last year you could go right to the PGA Tour. It started out pretty good that first year, I won the Money List on the Florida Pro Tour, I made the second stage and I think I missed Finals by two strokes.
"I kind of got into a little groove of maybe this is easy. Then the next two or three years after that, it was a struggle. I left home that summer and I told my dad I was going to go to Florida. I had no money it just turned into a hassle and a struggle, but I just kept fighting and I'm here today.
"My parents always taught me, if you start something, you finish it. I just always had that mindset and that mindset will always stick with me."
Author: Jake Wilkin