Willie Mack III shot a second-round 73 to finish 3 under to make his first PGA TOUR cut at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, MI.
Willie Mack Rocket Mortgage INTERVIEW June 30, 2021 (Courtesy PGA Tour)
Willie’s storied journey to the PGA Tour is not unique among the hundreds of players before him. His 71st finish of 4 under par, or that he finished higher than many is also no indication of his ability to play on the big game with the best. He is young. He is hungry. He is good, and there is a very bright future for this talented professional on the PGA Tour.
His story? Best told by his answers to reporter’s question at his press conference prior to play: (edited for repetition and space) ed.
We’ll get started here with Willie Mack III at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Willie, a number of starts for you to date on the PGA TOUR, but this one comes in your home state. If we can just get an opening comment from you?
WILLIE MACK III: Yeah, I’m really excited to be here and definitely got ?? had a lot of support the last couple days. Hopefully I can keep it going and play well this weekend.
Thoughts on the golf course? Just played in the pro?am. Initial impressions ahead of the first round?
Obviously the object is winning the grand prize in this whole thing, but what other things can you just be happy about being out here, having the opportunity to showcase your game because you are from here and you know this place so well?
WILLIE MACK III: Yeah, without winning, just playing well and doing what I know I can do. I’m playing next week at John Deere, so hopefully I can just keep this going and play well at both starts.
Do you start feeling like having these opportunities, getting these exemptions, playing your way into these tournaments is starting to peak you where you want to go?
WILLIE MACK III: Yeah, I played well two weeks ago at the Korn Ferry event in South Carolina, so I was I think 11 under through three rounds. Kind of had one bad drive on the last day, but other than that, played pretty good. Making that cut and knowing you can play out there definitely gave me a good amount of confidence coming out here this week.
And understanding, you know Detroit, you know the area, what they’re doing here with 313 and all the initiatives to grow the game in this area, as a guy who’s from here, you can appreciate that a little bit more than some of the other guys?
WILLIE MACK III: Yeah, for sure. Dan Gilbert has definitely put a lot into Detroit, and the last time I came to Detroit actually was a couple years ago, so since then it’s definitely gotten a lot better downtown. I’m excited what they’re going to do in the next couple years.
How many friends and family do you have coming?
WILLIE MACK III: A lot of friends and family are coming. I probably won’t see them all, but I know they’ll be rooting for me.
Do you have a number? A dozen, two dozen, something like that?
WILLIE MACK III: At least a hundred people have hit me up about coming, so probably some more will come, but hopefully it will be a good crowd.
Just the last thing is, we’ve talked to you before about all the difficulties that you face as a minority on the Tour, trying to make your way on the Tour. Kamaiu Johnson has been talking about how he’s been mistaken as a caddie at a lot of tournaments. Does that happen to you? What are the kind of difficulties that you have to endure, I guess, trying to be a pro golfer?
WILLIE MACK III: Yeah, it happened. It still happens. It happened recently, but I kind of just laugh at it and keep it moving. Can’t really let that get to you. That’s pretty much it about this.
What do you tell them? Do you say, no, I’m actually a pro golfer, I’m here for a tournament?
WILLIE MACK III: I just say I’m a player and they kind of just put me in the other direction that they put me in the first time.
On John Shippen Invitational winner-Tim O’Neal. Obviously Tim made his way into the tournament this week. Has he been a motivator for you? Could you talk a little bit about that and the way he’s motivated others? He’s been on the professional circuit on a number of different tours for a long time now.
WILLIE MACK III: Yeah, especially when I turned pro, I didn’t know him well, but we talk all the time, text. I’m excited that he won and got in here. He’s a little older than most of us, but he still has the game. I’m glad we both got an opportunity this week and hopefully we both play well.