Willie Mack III is one step closer to his dream of playing regularly on the PGA Tour.
The 34-year-old APGA Tour Player of the Year and mini-tour legend made an eagle and three birdies in his first seven holes of the final round of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School to guarantee starts in the first eight events this season.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said speaking on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio’s “Hitting the Green with Sobel and the Caddie.”
Mack, who started the day T-41 and already had secured conditional status by advancing through the second stage of Q-School for the first, needed to go low on Monday as Nos. 11-40 (and ties) lock-up starts in the first eight events while Nos. 41 and above likely will get some starts depending on one’s final number.
Mack charged out of the gate hot and parred in the final 11 holes to shoot 5-under 66 and a 72-hole total of 7-under 277 at The Landings in Savannah, Georgia.
There are currently just three Black golfers on the PGA Tour: Tiger Woods, Cameron Champ and Joseph Bramlett.
Mack, who played at Bethune-Cookman, a historically Black college in Daytona Beach, Florida, has played in six career PGA Tour events on sponsorship exemptions and made four previous Korn Ferry Tour starts (with one made cut, a T-62 at the 2021 BMW Charity Pro-Am).
Along the way, the family’s house twice went into foreclosure (although they never lost it) and Mack resorted to sleeping in his car for a year and a half to save money. Photos of his car on fire on Interstate 95 went viral and while he saved his clubs, he lost the rest of his belongings.
“I know all the sacrifices my dad and my mom made for me,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to give up for them so I just kept going and I’m glad it worked out.”
On August 2, 2018, the PGA Tour invited eight members of the APGA Tour, including Mack to TPC Sawgrass and a visit to the PGA Tour Academy, where director of golf Todd Anderson, whose pupils have included Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker, held court. That experience changed the course of Mack’s professional career.
“(Anderson) said I have the game to play on the Tour,” Mack recalled. “He said I hit the ball just like them. That meant everything to me.”
Mack gives the APGA Tour credit for helping his progression as a player, and knows his success will rub off on future players.
“Just me being able to get out there and play well I think that gives them a lot of confidence to do the same in the near future,” he said.
Eight starts is a start for Mack but the journey has a long way to go – he knows that a shortcut is to win three times next season and earn a “Battlefield Promotion” to the big leagues or finish in the top 30 and be awarded a PGA Tour card for 2024.
“My dream is to win three times and go right to the PGA Tour,” he said. “That’s my goal and if not, for sure, get into the top 30 on the money list and get on the PGA Tour.”
He’s one step closer to making that a reality.