Tiger Woods will be concentrating on hosting duties instead of competing at the Genesis Invitational as he recovers from his fifth back operation.
And the 15-time major winner will be paying special attention to the exploits of a 32-year-old mini-tour veteran making just the second PGA Tour appearance of his career at Riviera Country Club.
Willie Mack III is playing the £6.7million event after receiving the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption given to a deserving minority golfer, as chosen by the Tiger Woods Foundat
Sifford was the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour and Mack understands how important it is to carry on his legacy, even though he was initially reluctant to share his history of financial struggles, which included a spell of sleeping in his car.
“It’s kind of like the Jackie Robinson of golf,” Mack told a pre-tournament press conference. “And who knows if Tiger would be who Tiger is today if it wasn’t for him.
“I’m a quiet guy. I actually never told my story or situation to anybody… I think maybe in the early stages of it happening it was maybe a little bit embarrassing, but I’m glad I went through it and it made me a better man and a better golfer today.”
Mack was talented enough to draw interest from a few good colleges, but his grades were average and none of the top schools offered the full scholarship that he needed.