Willie Mack III, Golf Championship

Tee Up! Willie Mack III Plays First Major Golf Championship At U.S. Open

The majority of Mack III's golf career has been played on the lower-level mini-tours before he won a playoff at a U.S. Open qualifier.

At a renowned North Carolina golf course, where several legends have made their mark, a crowd is able to revel in the experience of watching Willie Mack III, not previously a household name in the sport, play in his first major championship appearance, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.

The 35-year-old has been a professional golfer since graduating from Bethune-Cookman University in 2011, with seven PGA Tour starts under his belt. According to an interview with Golf.com, last year, he enjoyed full playing status on the Korn Ferry Tour. However, the majority of his career has been played on the lower-level mini-tours. His efforts came to fruition when he won a playoff at a U.S. Open qualifier, earning him a spot at this prestigious major.

Mack got candid about his golf journey, a testament to his perseverance and strength despite overcoming hardships. Born in Flint, Michigan, he and his father, Willie Jr., learned the game together, though he reveals that only one of the courses in his hometown remains open.

“When I first turned pro…,I won the money list on the Florida Pro Tour,” Willie recounted. “It was the last year you could go right to the PGA Tour through Q-School, and I missed the final stage by two strokes. And then after that, I don’t know if I kind of thought it was easy because I was playing so good, but things just started going the other direction.” He had at last scratched the surface of success, only to face setbacks that would break most. However, Willie persevered and embraced an unimaginable nomadic life.

“I don’t even know how it started. I just know my mom didn’t really know all the details of that. My dad knew where I was every night. I think moms, they kind of worry more than dads, so she probably wouldn’t have been too happy or tried to get me to come home,” he said.

Willie revealed the sacrifices made to chase his dream. “In the winter, you clearly can’t play golf in Michigan, so just stick it out, and I’m glad I did,” he said. Mack spent several nights in the confines of his black Ford Mustang with tinted windows to pursue his goals, but his story is more than the hardships he faced. It’s a celebration of his ability to overcome adversity and serve as an inspiration to others. As one of the few Black players in golf, Willie is pursuing more than just personal goals. Inspired by Tiger Woods, Willie hopes to encourage more people to play golf.

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