It’s no surprise that HBCU students are infiltrating the golf game and coming for the big titles! It has turned out that not one, but two players in this month’s upcoming Farmers Insurance Open will be products of HBCUs! Read today’s story from PGA Tour for the full details!
With the tournament set to begin next week, Farmers Insurance® and the Farmers Insurance Open® will again host a group of players from the APGA (Advocates Professional Golf Association) Tour when a collection of the best players on the PGA TOUR come to Torrey Pines, January 28-31, 2021.
In January 2020, the AGPA Tour worked with Farmers® to host its first-ever tournament in conjunction with a PGA TOUR event at the Farmers Insurance Open, an annual PGA TOUR stop at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. The 27-hole APGA Tour tournament, dubbed the Farmers Insurance Open Invitational, was held on Torrey Pines’ North Course during Saturday’s third round of the Farmers Insurance Open, played simultaneously on the South Course. It was recently announced that the APGA Tour will return in 2021 to play again on the Saturday of tournament week with 17 players set to tee it up on Torrey Pines’ North Course this year.
“At Farmers 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. “We look forward to hosting the APGA during the Farmers Insurance Open with the second-annual APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open Invitational on Saturday of tournament week.”
All 17 participants have unique paths to the APGA Tour as they chase their dream of playing on the PGA TOUR. In fact, two APGA Tour players– Kevin Hall and Willie Mack III—have recently been awarded with sponsors’ exemptions to separate PGA TOUR events in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and The Genesis Invitational, respectively. The following contains biographical information on several players who will be available by request for media interviews.
Mulbe Dillard, a senior at Florida A&M, debuts at No. 1 in a newly formed ranking created by the PGA TOUR and the APGA Tour aimed to 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 this new college ranking for Black golfers in NCAA Division I, II and III, with the top five seniors each year receiving summer status on the APGA Tour and an exemption into the pre-qualifying stage for Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
Kevin Hall, 37, is deaf and trying to pave the way for both the deaf community and African Americans. He played high school golf for Winton Woods (Ohio) while he attended St. Rita School for the Deaf. He went on to play at Ohio State, where he won the Big Ten Conference individual championship in 2004 by 11 shots and turned pro the following year. He has played several PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour events over the course of his career. 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.
Willie Mack III, a Farmers Insurance brand ambassador, is a native of Flint, Mich., who played collegiately at Bethune-Cookman (in 2006), where he won 11 collegiate events. Mack was also the first African American to win the Michigan Amateur Championship, in 2011. He won the APGA Tour’s Lexus Cup as the Tour’s top player in 2019. He won two events, finished runner-up twice and recorded six top-10 finishes that year. Mack has won nearly 20 professional tournaments and currently competes on the APGA Tour.
While Joey Stills has carved his own path through his young golf career as a standout player at the University of West Florida, giving his time as a teacher and mentor at his local First Tee Chapter and now as a professional on the APGA Tour, he continues to chase not only his own dreams, but also the career of his father, Adrian Stills. Adrian is one of the pioneering African Americans to make it to the PGA TOUR through PGA TOUR Qualifying School and joins legendary figures helping to pave the way for African Americans in professional golf. He eventually joined APGA Tour CEO Ken Bentley to develop and co-found the APGA Tour.
Joey joins other First Tee alumni in the field, the aforementioned Mulbe Dillard and Joseph Dent, son of 12-time PGA TOUR Champions winner, Jim Dent.
Other APGA Tour players who will be at the event include:
• Brad Adamonis
• Jarred Garcia
• Joe Hooks
• Michael Herrera
• Maurice Jeffries
• Landon Lyons
• Marcus Manley
• Tim O’Neal
• Tommy Schaff
• JP Thornton
• Davin White
• Rovonta Young
In addition to the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open Invitational, another APGA Tour member, Kamaiu Johnson, will be playing in the PGA TOUR competition next week after Farmers Insurance CEO Jeff Dailey surprised Johnson with the news that he had been awarded a sponsor’s exemption into the Farmers Insurance Open in October. Johnson called the news “life changing” and will tee it up against the world’s best players when he makes his PGA TOUR debut next week.
With exemptions announced for Hall, Johnson and Mack, three players who have been an integral part of the APGA Tour schedule will tee it up on the PGA TOUR in the next four weeks.
Kamaiu Johnson, also a Farmers Insurance brand ambassador, dropped out of school in the eighth grade. City golf superintendent Jan Auger spotted Johnson, then 13 years old, swinging a stick outside an apartment complex that bordered Hilaman Golf Course in Tallahassee, Fla. Auger told Johnson to head back to the clubhouse, where there would be a 9-iron and a bucket of balls waiting for him. This moment changed the course of his life. At 16, Johnson began competing in events and made history, winning the Tallahassee Open three times, the last of which came in 2017. In 2020, Johnson won twice on the APGA Tour, including a victory at the 2020 APGA Tour Lexus Cup Championship in Los Angeles, and finished second in the 2020 APGA Tour Lexus Cup Point Standings.
A longtime supporter of the APGA, Farmers is deepening its commitment in 2021 by increasing its financial support for player access, working to provide professional and career development opportunities for athletes, and helping to bring the game to more athletes.