From sleeping in his car to mixing it with the best golfers in the world, Willie Mack III's journey to the PGA Tour is far from conventional
Willie Mack III’s Inspirational Journey To The PGA Tour
Ahead of this week’s Genesis Invitational, one of the most intriguing storylines is that of Willie Mack III, whose route to the PGA Tour has been anything but plain sailing.
Having won the money list on the Florida Professional Golf Tour and reached the second stage of Q-School straight out of University in 2011, Mack’s pro career got off to a promising start.
But, upon moving to Florida, the relentless nature of the sport caught up with him.
“It started out pretty good that first year and I kind of got into a little groove of maybe this is easy,” Mack said.
“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 and it just turned into a hassle and a struggle, but I kept fighting and I’m here today.”
Such were his financial struggles in particular that, in the pursuit of his dreams, Mack was forced to sleep in his car for the best part of 18 months.
However, having come through that ordeal, the 32-year-old is now able to draw on that experience as motivation for the future.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he added.
“In the early stages of it happening I was a bit embarrassed, but I’m glad I went through it and it made me a better man and golfer.
“I’ve come a long way and I’m definitely going to work hard and make sure I don’t get back there.”
Away from the course Mack describes himself as a “quiet guy” but beneath that exterior lies a competitor with an unwavering dedication.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that many in that position would’ve given up, but for Mack, quitting was never an option.
“Knowing that my dad gave all his money and time into something his son wanted to do; I didn’t want to give up not only for myself, but for him and my family also.
“Everybody goes through tough times, I just went through a different one than most people, but I’m glad I’m through it and hopefully the future will be a lot better.”
The future certainly appears to be brighter as the American is now reaping the rewards for his endeavour.
Not only has he amassed an impressive 65 mini-tour wins, but after being awarded the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption into this week’s Genesis Invitational by Tiger Woods, Mack then received a late sponsor’s exemption into the Farmers Insurance Open, taking the spot of his friend Kamaiu Johnson who tested positive for Covid-19.
And while he didn’t score how he would have liked at Torrey Pines, the 32-year-old insists he learnt a lot and will be better equipped for this week’s challenge.
“It was exciting, and it was a learning experience.
“I think it happened for a reason and I’m glad I did it.
“I found out about my driver and got some new equipment and even just manoeuvring around the course and the locker room and different things, Torrey definitely helped me for the future.
“Being able to play in this tournament, getting an award from Tiger on the Charlie Sifford invite is exciting and I’m honoured to get that and hopefully I can play well and keep that legacy going.”