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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

U.S. Open run draws HBCU grad Willie Mack III new support

U.S. Open run draws HBCU grad Willie Mack III new support

HBCU product Willie Mack III had a run dreamt of by anyone who has ever picked up a golf club in the U.S. Open Championship.  He had an opportunity to play for the U.S. National Championship, coupled with being played on historic Pinehurst No.2 in North Carolina.

Mack played himself into contention to make the 36-hole elimination cut. As with many professionals, the pin placement and lightning fast greens on cut day left no room for error resulting in Mack being eliminated from contention.

He would end his run with a 10-over-par 80 in the second round of the 2022 U.S. Open.  Mack was just unable to get things going in the right direction, and with the holes’ challenges, mistakes ended up compounding before things got better.

After qualifying for the tournament in the play-in, Mack became a fan favorite as the story of his irregular journey to even pursue a career in golf became public.  While the B-CU alum was honored with the opportunity to play in the U.S. Open, with his experiences on the APGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, and PGA Tour, he is far beyond taking symbolic victories and is working to secure the ability to compete on the PGA Tour on a regular basis.

Not since Jackson State’s Tim O’Neil qualified for the U.S. Open in 2015 had an HBCU alum made their way to the competition. At that time, JSU had one of the best golf programs in the country under coach Eddie Payton.

The front nine was a challenge within itself on Friday.  Willie Mack III would card three birdies and six pars on the front en route to a 3-over-par score of 38.  The back nine is where things fell apart.  Mack simply wouldn’t be able to keep things going as he carded a 42, which in itself was 7-over-par.  He would tally an 11-over-par total for the tournament after hanging within the cut line for the entire front nine.

Former B-CU golferWillie Mack III, HBCUFormer B-CU golferWillie Mack III, HBCU
Willie Mack, an HBCU graduate who competed at Bethune-Cookman, had a strong showing at the U.S. Open.

The U.S. Open is made to be a tournament that challenges golfers to make par.  This year’s tournament challenged most of the field to do just that.  Several big names like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Rickie Fowler also failed to make the cut.  Mack bested most of their scores until the final nine holes simply took his momentum.

Support for Mack’s run was rampant on social media.  A Facebook group called Black Golf Alliance had several posts supporting Mack’s run and was active in detailing their experiences with Mack during his career.  HBCU groups also noted Mack’s run, though many only knew of his attending B-CU but were not aware of his career since he turned pro.

Nevertheless, while Willie Mack will likely kick himself for how close he came to the pinnacle of his career, he has gained many casual fans in the process.  The resilient journeyman will continue his career in much the same manner as he has made for himself, by grinding his was to every opportunity.  All the way, making the HBCU nation proud.

U.S. Open run draws HBCU grad Willie Mack III new support

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