Kamaiu Johnson, 27, is going from eighth-grade dropout to playing on the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour and Farmers Insurance announced Tuesday that Johnson, winner of the 2020 APGA Tour Championship, was 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."
Johnson tweeted, "Words can't describe what getting this calls means."
Words can't describe what getting this calls means. I'm humbled to earn an exemption to the 2021 @Farmersinsopen. So many people have helped me along the way, but special thanks to Jeff Dailey, @wearefarmers and the @apgatour for supporting my journey to the @PGATOUR #WEREADY https://t.co/gEsskXzyLH— Kamaiu Johnson (@KamaiuJohnson) October 27, 2020
Farmers CEO Jeff Dailey said in a statement, "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."
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 eight 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.
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.