Vincent Johnson to Make PGA Debut
Feb. 2, 2009
Corvallis, Ore. - Former Oregon State University men's golf student-athlete Vincent Johnson of Portland, Ore., has been named the first Charlie Sifford exemption into the Professional Golf Association's Northern Trust Open (Los Angeles Open), Feb. 19-22, at the historic Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The exemption is awarded to a golfer of high character and accomplishment who advances the cause of diversity.
'I'm really excited about it,' Johnson said. 'I have to thank Earnie Ellison (PGA Finance Director and Director of Minority Inclusion Programs) for this opportunity. He started the whole process for me and the next thing I know I get an email from Northern Trust and a call from Mr. Sifford. To get this opportunity is a dream come true.'
Johnson emerged on Ellison's radar after winning the 2007 PGA Minority Golf Championships by 12 shots in Port St. Lucia, Fla.
The former Beaver co-captain and four-year letterman (2005-08) is a business finance graduate of OSU, earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors three times and was a member of the Arthur Ashe Jr., Sports Scholar Team. The David Douglas High School graduate also earned a minor in music.
Johnson is currently competing on the Gateway Tour, a mini-tour for aspiring professionals. He made his first cut last week at a tournament in the greater Phoenix area and has two more events on the Gateway Tour prior to his PGA debut.
'Vincent has been a great ambassador for our University and Golf Program,' Beaver head men's golf coach Brian Watts said. 'He is well deserving of this honor and I know that he will appreciate every minute. This is tremendous opportunity to promote his game within months of his turning professional.'
Sifford became the first African American ever inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame when he was enshrined in 2004 and the first to ever play on the PGA Tour. Northern Trust created three exemptions for minorities for this tournament in Sifford's name.
'It's something that should have been done a long time ago,' Sifford told the Associated Press. 'This is a wonderful thing. It will give someone a chance.'
The 72-hole Northern Trust Open, one of the oldest in the world, will air on the Golf Channel, PGA Network and CBS. The field includes 17 of the world's top 20 players from 2008, including defending champion Phil Mickelson.