SAN DIEGO – When Kamaiu Johnson learned he’d been given a sponsor exemption to play this week’s Farmers Insurance Open he took to Twitter: “Words can’t describe what getting this call means.”
Johnson’s PGA Tour debut will have to wait following news Tuesday that he’d tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from this week’s event.
In a statement posted to his Twitter account Johnson said: “To say that I’m disappointed would be a massive understatement. I’ve dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour for a long, long time, but health and safety come first.”
Johnson, an eighth-grade dropout, was given the exemption into this week’s field after he won the 2020 Advocates Pro Golf Association (APGA) Tour Championship.
“It’s times like these where you have to keep focusing on the bigger picture at hand, and from my experience a fork in the road often has an interesting way of leading to new opportunities,” Johnson wrote. “Getting a brief glimpse of the Farmers Insurance Open and what it would be like to play on the PGA Tour only further ignites the fire inside me to work that much harder to chase the dream of playing on Tour full-time.”
Shortly after withdrawing, Johnson learned that his mother, Angela Rooks, had been taken to the hospital because of complications due to COVID-19. “This is turning into a nightmare from hell," Johnson tweeted. "My mom has just been rush[ed] to the hospital not being able to breathe due to COVID 19. Pray for my family please."
Johnson told ESPN that his mother has COVID-19 pneumonia and was taken to a central Florida hospital. Johnson, per coronavirus protocols, has to quarantine in Southern California.
Johnson was replaced in the field by Willie Mack III. Mack is also scheduled to play next month’s Genesis Invitational on a sponsor’s exemption. Johnson will have the Tour's full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines, the Tour stated.