An American Dream

By Randall MellJune 16, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Nobodys journey was longer or harder to this U.S. Open.
South Africas James Kamte traveled halfway around the world, nearly 8,000 miles, to earn a spot in his first major championship, but its not the mileage that distinguishes the distance he covered in his trip to Bethpage Black this week.
Its the improbable nature of the journey.
A child of apartheid whose parents were once fearful about their sons attraction to a predominantly white sport, Kamte is striving to become South Africas Tiger Woods, his countrys first black international champion golfer.
The turns his life have taken since he arrived in the United States last month are dizzying.
Tiger Woods and James Kamte walk together during their practice round Monday at Bethpage Black Course.(Getty Images)
He teed it up with Tiger Woods Monday in a practice round. Two weeks ago, he played practice rounds with Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els at the Memorial and then played his first PGA Tour event there. Last week, he earned his U.S. Open spot in a Monday sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.
Im just living a dream, Kamte, 26, said. Its unbelievable whats happening.
After apartheid ended in 1994, Kamte took up caddying at a course near his hometown of Humansdorp, South Africa. He says he was 13 when he began playing. After developing impressive skills, he was about 16 when a friend backed his appearance in a club championship. Kamte won it by 18 shots. His skills and potential caught the eye of South Africas Ernie Els and his youth foundation, an organization that fueled the next steps in Kamtes development.
Kamte would go on to make a name for himself as a pro, winning three times on South Africas Sunshine Tour and once on the Asian Tour. He met Woods at the European Tours Dubai Desert Classic.
With Hall of Famer Gary Player and Els supporting him, Kamte wrote a letter to Jack Nicklaus, asking for an invitation to play the Memorial. Nicklaus met Kamte in South Africa three years ago when Nicklaus was building a golf course there. The connections all helped Kamte gain a sponsors exemption to Nicklaus tournament.
Though Kamte missed the cut at the Memorial, he crossed paths again with Woods, who encouraged his bid to qualify for the U.S. Open.
When Kamte met the challenge, his reward was more than a tee time in Thursdays first round at Bethpage Black. It was an invitation from Woods to play a practice round together. They did so Monday.
Its an unbelievable thing, playing a practice round with Tiger Woods, Kamte said. Its one of the special things happening to me here.
Kamte earned the nickname Cobra as a talented soccer player in his youth. He and his friends had dreams of becoming professionals, but hes grateful he found golfs detour. He says many of his friends with dreams as big as his are selling vegetables in street markets today and sleeping on the streets.
When he was 10 years old, with apartheid still in effect, Kamte wouldnt have believed what his future held. Neither would his family and friends.
They would have said you were nuts, Kamte said. Some of them wouldnt have known what the U.S. Open was.
Kamte is grateful to those whove helped him along his journey, but he knows what his real fuel is.
Its been a lot of hard work, Kamte said. I had to spend so much time on the golf course, 10 hours a day to catch up with everyone ahead of me because I came to the game so late. I knew I had to work harder to catch up. But here I am today, and its a dream come true and Im thankful to God for it.
South African Rory Sabbatini played a practice round with Kamte on Tuesday.
James has a fantastic game, Sabbatini said. He strikes the ball so well, but hes also got such a great attitude and great outlook.
But hes still young, still learning. We all go through it. Its just a matter of time until he gets his comfort level out here and performs the way he knows he can.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -2009 U.S. Open
  • First- and Second-Round Tee Times
  • Sectional Qualifying results
  • Bethpage Black Ballpark
  • Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

    Getty Images

    Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

    By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

    The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

    Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

    Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

    Playing with the pros

    Tiger, DJ and Faxon

    Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

    President at the Presidents Cup

    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

    Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

    Cart on the green

    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

    Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

    Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

    Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

    Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

    Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

    Trump golf properties


    Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

    Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


    Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

    Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

    Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

    Reportedly fake TIME covers

    Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

    Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

    Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

    Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

    Pros comment on the president

    Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

    Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm