Kamaiu Johnson, 27, is going from 8th grade dropout to playing on the PGA Tour.
Farmers Insurance and the Farmers Insurance Open are announcing that Johnson, winner of the 2020 APGA Tour Championship, is being awarded an exemption into the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open in January. This will be his first start on the PGA Tour.
In September, Johnson shot a final-round-68 (-4), making a birdie on the final hole to win the Advocates Pro Golf Association (APGA) Tour Championship.
“This means so much to me,” Johnson told ESPN. “Because so many people have supported me. Not letting these people down. (I want to) make it worth their while.”
When a 13-year-old Johnson was “discovered” swinging a stick like a golf club, he was living in a 2-bedroom apartment with his grandmother and 8 others. Jan Auger, the city golf superintendent, wondered why he wasn’t in school but made him a deal: Do odd jobs around the course and play for $1 a day.
“I never dreamed this far,” said Johnson, who went on to earn his GED. “I wanted to do it, but my circumstances wouldn’t allow me to do it. I mean, I wanted to play on the PGA Tour but I couldn’t (afford to) go to Q-school. I couldn’t (afford to) go to Monday Qualifiers. How are you gonna get to the PGA Tour if you can’t do that? So I couldn’t dream of it. It’s just a dream come true, man.”
On Jan. 25, the APGA was playing an event on the Torrey Pines North Course while the Farmers Insurance Open was being played on the South Course. Later that weekend, the PGA Tour and Farmers announced a long-term partnership with the tour dedicated to developing more diversity and creating playing opportunities for minorities by helping alleviate the financial burden.
Farmers CEO Jeff Dailey has said, “The APGA Tour is doing incredible work to expand the game of golf and we are thrilled to be able to provide Kamaiu the chance to play in his first ever PGA Tour event. His performance on the course, and his commitment to serving his community continually impress us.”
The PGA Tour and PGA of America have also announced plans to deepen their support of the APGA in 2021 by increasing financial support and extending access to more courses for the 10-event 2021 schedule.