Golf

Kamaiu Johnson lands exemption to Honda Basic after COVID-19 delayed dream of taking part in on tour

Two days after COVID-19 saved Kamaiu Johnson from his dream of taking part in on the PGA Tour, the Honda Basic stepped ahead Thursday to ensure the inspiring Black golfer will get his shot.

Johnson was the highest participant on the Advocates Professional Golf Affiliation final yr, and the Farmers Insurance coverage Open awarded him a sponsor exemption to play alongside a few of the greatest on the planet at Torrey Pines.

After which he examined constructive for the coronavirus on Tuesday and had to withdraw.

The Honda Basic, to be held March 18-21 in his residence state of Florida, supplied Johnson an exemption.

“As I mentioned after I first discovered that I might be pressured to withdraw, a fork within the street usually has an attention-grabbing method of resulting in new alternatives,” Johnson mentioned. “It was past disappointing not to have the ability to play on the Farmers Insurance coverage Open after the entire help that Farmers has proven me and the APGA Tour.

“Now, to search out out that I’ll nonetheless have an opportunity to satisfy my dream of taking part in on the PGA Tour is nearly overwhelming.”

Johnson grew up within the tiny Florida city of Madison and performed on a youth journey baseball crew with former Chicago Cubs All-Star Addison Russell. However he dropped out of the eighth grade as a result of he was put in a category for gradual learners and felt torn down.

Dwelling together with his grandmother in a crowded two-bedroom condominium close to a golf course, he was noticed swinging a stick by the town golf superintendent, Jan Auger. She made him a deal. If he helped across the membership, he may play for $1 a spherical. For the subsequent 5 years, Johnson virtually lived at Hilaman Park, honing his sport.

“Golf saved me,” Johnson informed Golf Digest final yr. “It gave me a cause to dwell, gave me a function.”

The APGA Tour was established 10 years in the past to organize Black and different minority golfers to compete and achieve higher entry throughout the golf trade.

Johnson completed within the prime 10 within the final 5 APGA occasions final yr, profitable its Tour Championship. He was overjoyed when the Farmers Insurance coverage Open known as to supply him an exemption in October.

After which it ended with a constructive coronavirus take a look at.

A day after Johnson needed to withdraw, he discovered his mom was hospitalized with respiratory difficulties from COVID-19.

“That is turning right into a nightmare from hell,” Johnson tweeted on Wednesday.

He mentioned Thursday that she was bettering, and his spirits had been fairly excessive, too.

Ken Kennerly, the chief director of the Honda Basic, mentioned he and event director Andrew George had been accustomed to Johnson from when he tried to undergo Monday qualifying final yr on the Honda.

“After we heard what occurred to him at Farmers this week, we felt strongly that we wished to offer him an opportunity to play at The Honda Basic. We really feel it is very important help the development of golfers from our residence state, Kennerly mentioned.

“We have now all the time been about rising the sport of golf for younger gamers and Kamaiu is such an inspiration for therefore lots of them.”

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