SAN DIEGO – Since mid-October, Kamaiu Johnson, a standout on the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour, a circuit created to provide playing opportunities for minority players, has been counting down the days until he fulfilled his dream by making his PGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Life, however, teed up a vicious blockade as he tested positive for COVID-19 five days before the start of the annual tournament at Torrey Pines. Then he got word his mother was rushed to a hospital in the Orlando area with breathing difficulties caused by contracting COVID-19.
But the sun came up a few days later and Johnson’s future is bright again.
His mother is trending toward a return to good health and his coming days will include playing in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Honda Classic, as both tournaments granted sponsor exemptions to Johnson this week.
“I really can’t explain the turn of events, it just happened so fast,” Johnson, 27, said Friday in a conference call with reporters. “Starting this week I thought I was going to get my first PGA Tour event this week, but God had other plans.
“I’m just so thankful for the support that I’ve gotten over these past five days. I’m thankful to AT&T and Farmers and Honda for all they are doing for me. It’s been amazing how many people have reached out to me.
“My mom is definitely trending in the right direction. The doctor said she should be able to go home on Sunday, so that’s just amazing. The good news is just absolutely amazing and it’s such a quick turnaround of events that I’m just so grateful and thankful for.
“I have a great team around me and they just told me to stay patient and honestly, good things come to those who wait. It’s amazing what’s happened in the last 48 hours, absolutely amazing.”
Johnson has been quarantining locally and if all continues to go well, he will be able to leave his quarters on Tuesday. He has kept busy working on his game as much as one can in a hotel room. Farmers Insurance sent him some weight bands, he set up a putting mat in the room, and has been able to swing a golf club.
And other than a rough night a few nights ago, he’s been feeling great – 100 percent, he said.
“I feel absolutely back to normal, more sure,” Johnson said. “I’ve just been trying to stay active and trying to keep my body loose. It’s just absolutely a dream come true honestly to be playing on the PGA Tour at Pebble Beach; that property’s just amazing. I’ve never been on that property before, but I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like when I get there.
“I’ve been doing everything I can just to stay golf ready while in quarantine. I’m just excited, just be out there and competing against the best in the world. It’s everything I ever wanted, it’s everything I ever dreamed of and it’s everything that everyone who’s ever helped me has ever dreamed of for me.”
Johnson’s life, like this past week, has been anything but easy. He has dealt with many ups and downs throughout his life, including being homeless at times and on occasion having to sleep in his mother’s car at tournaments. He picked up the game later in life and has spent much of the past three years on golf’s backroads playing mini-tournaments and the APGA.
Last year, which included a win in the APGA Tour Championship in September, he made about $30,000 – before expenses. But his story – and personality and game – has resonated with some movers and shakers in golf. Farmers Insurance inked him to an endorsement deal for $25,000 per year for two years. A co-founder of Cambridge Mobile Telematics, Bill Powers, gave Johnson another $20,000.
This week, as a non-member of the PGA Tour, Johnson received a stipend of $2,500 this week after he tested positive.
This journey, however, is not Johnson’s alone. He fully embraces representing the APGA as he chases his PGA Tour dream.
“I think golf needs to start looking more like America looks,” Johnson said. “I think that’s just good for golf and I think that’s just good to show that we have a lot of talent. I think that we need to be ready when that opportunity comes and I think that I am ready at this time in my life and my golf career.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for the APGA Tour. I think it’s important that we play well so that it just shows that we deserve opportunities as well.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/01/29/god-other-plans-apga-tour-kamaiu-johnson/