Kamaiu Johnson‘s dream opportunity to play in his first PGA Tour event this week ended Tuesday with a positive COVID-19 test result, meaning he had to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open.
Making matters worse, Johnson, 27, later tweeted that his mother has the virus and needed to be hospitalized in Florida.
Johnson dropped out of school after eighth grade following a tough childhood, and found his way through golf. Last year, he won the Advocates Pro Golf Association (APGA) Tour Championship, making a birdie on the final hole.
That victory led to the Farmers Insurance Open sponsor’s invitation and what was to be his first PGA Tour start this week at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
But Johnson tested positive as part of the tour’s weekly COVID-19 program, which means he is required to stay in the San Diego area in quarantine for 10 days. He told ESPN that his mother, Angela Rooks, has COVID pneumonia and was hospitalized in Oviedo, Florida.
“This is turning into a nightmare from hell,” Johnson tweeted Tuesday night. “My mom has just been rush(ed) to the hospital not being able to breathe due to COVID-19. Pray for my family please.”
Earlier, Johnson had tried to remain upbeat in the wake of his positive test.
“To say that I’m disappointed would be a massive understatement,” Johnson said. “I’ve dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour for a long, long time, but health and safety come first. It’s times like these where you have to keep focusing on the big picture at hand, and from my experience, a fork in the road often has an interesting way of leading to new opportunities.
“Getting a 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. I am so thankful to Farmers Insurance and entire team at the Century Club of San Diego for not only providing me with this opportunity, but also for all they’re doing to promote diversity in golf and beyond.”
Johnson was replaced in the field by Willie Mack, a fellow APGA player who also received a sponsor exemption to next month’s Genesis Invitational.
“I’m more than honored to have this opportunity and I know it was under an unfortunate situation, but I’m going to go out there and do what I do,” Mack told ESPN. “I can speak for me and Kamaiu when I say our dreams were to play on the PGA Tour. And to see this happen at the biggest time of his career is devastating. I’m going to go out there this week and give it my all not only for me but for Kamaiu because I know he would do the same for me.”
Johnson is the fifth player in four weeks in 2021 on the PGA Tour to test positive for the coronavirus, keeping them from playing that week.
“I have a great team doing some great things for me,” Johnson later told ESPN. “I’m just going to continue to work hard and whatever happens, happens.”
Information from ESPN’s Michael Collins was used in this report.