One of the worst days of Kamaiu Johnson’s life has now turned into a mixture of elation and disbelief.
Just days after learning that he had to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open after testing positive for COVID-19, Johnson has received a pair of sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour: the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which begins in two weeks, and the Honda Classic in March.
The Pebble Beach invite was announced Friday.
“I’m so excited, overwhelmed. It’s just an amazing feeling,” Johnson said on a conference call with reporters. “I really can’t explain the turn of events. It happened so fast. Starting this week, I thought I was going to get in my first PGA Tour event. God had other plans. I’m just so thankful for the support I’ve gotten over these past five days.”
Johnson, 27, has been quarantining in his San Diego-area hotel after testing positive. The news was devastating. “I just cried,” he said. “I called (my representative) Chris Reimer and we sat on the phone for like an hour and I just cried, honestly. He told me to just let it out.”
His mind soon was elsewhere, after finding out his mother, who lives near Orlando, Florida, had also tested positive and was being transported to the hospital after having trouble breathing. Because she already has lupus, Johnson said she was at a higher risk of serious illness after coming down with pneumonia. Johnson said she has recovered well and is expected to be released Sunday.
“The good news is just absolutely amazing, and it’s such a quick turnaround of events that I’m just so grateful and thankful for,” he said.
Johnson said that he had a “rough night” earlier in the week but since then has felt “absolutely amazing” and symptom-free. He’s been working out and swinging a club in his room, as his PGA Tour debut – officially – is now less than two weeks away. He normally competes on the Advocates Pro Golf Association tour, whose mission is to bring greater diversity to the game. Johnson won the circuit's Tour Championship in 2020.
The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am won’t feature fans or celebrities this year, and the event will be played over two courses (Pebble and Spyglass).
“This entire week has been mind-blowing,” he said. “To go from rock bottom, totally devastated on Tuesday, to receiving this exemption from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and AT&T just shows how quickly things can change.”