The Cameron Champ Foundation hosted the Mack Champ Invitational, a new tournament for the game’s best junior golfers of diverse backgrounds. The 36-hole event, for boys and girls ages 9-18, was conducted March 19-21, 2021, at Memorial Park Golf Course.
Named in honor of Mack Champ, Cameron’s grandfather who passed away in October 2019, the tournament focused on identifying talented and racially-diverse players as a way to honor the elder Champ's legacy. Mack Champ picked up golf as a caddie in segregated Texas in the 1940s and introduced his grandson Cameron to the game.
The AJGA's Northeast Regional Manager Caila Roberts served as tournament director for the event as an opportunity to team up with other organizations focused on providing inclusive opportunities in golf, including the Cameron Champ Foundation.
Champ, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, competed in AJGA events from 2011-2014 and has aligned his Foundation's efforts to grow the game and make it more accessible to minorities and under-served communities. The tournament provided junior golfers with an opportunity to showcase their talents and attend a clinic with Cameron Champ, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR who played college golf at Texas A&M.
With the Mack Champ Invitational's purpose to identify more talented and diverse golfers, Roberts was eager to run the event.
It was an honor to be a part of the inaugural Mack Champ Invitational and have the opportunity to put on this tournament for more than 100 minority junior golfers. This event was the first of its kind and allowed players to compete at a high level. Representation is important. This tournament gave players the chance to meet and play against other juniors who look like them.
The Mack Champ Invitational highlighted 18 juniors in the AJGA's ACE Grant program which provides financial assistance to young men and women who aspire to earn a college golf scholarship through competitive junior golf.
Top ACE Grant top-10 finishes:
- Siham Ibrahim of Culver City, California: Fourth in the age 13-14 Girls Division (10-over-par 154)
- Morgan Rodriguez of Delray Beach, Florida: Seventh in the age 13-14 Girls Division (16-over-par 160)
- Borina Sutikto of Fremont, California: T5 in the age 15-18 Girls Division (10-over-par 154)
- Haven Ward of Atlanta, Georgia: Tenth in the age 15-18 Girls Division (12-over-par 156)
- Joshua Bradley of Rochester, New York: T7 in the age 13-14 Boys Division (21-over-par 165)
- Awesome Burnett of Flower Mound, Texas: sixth in the age 15-18 Boys Division (6-over-par 150)
Amari Avery of Riverside, California, became the first Mack Champ Invitational victor in the Girls Division with a 3-under-par 141 weekend. At No. 73 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, the 2022 graduate will play in next week's Augusta National Women's Amateur.
To be able to be a part of, and play in, the Mack Champ Invitational is very special to me. It’s an honor to be part of such a diverse field of golfers. This event represents so much for young people in the game, especially because it allows them to have a high-level experience.
Other notable AJGA juniors who competed:
- Yana Wilson of Henderson, Nevada: second in the age 13-14 Girls Division (6-over-par 150)
- Allyn Stephens of Houston, Texas: fourth in the age 15-18 Girls Division (9-over-par 153)
- Ian Davis of Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida: second in the age 15-18 Boys Division (3-over-par 147)