By Stacy M. Brown

NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Wyatt Worthington II got his start in golf as a young teen growing up in Ohio.

To hear Worthington tell his uplifting story, his ascension up the leaderboard was both a product of his father’s commitment to the game and a chance meeting with Tiger Woods.

“I was 13 when I met Tiger,” Worthington recalled. “But [before that meeting], I would watch my dad hit balls. I didn’t think much of it at the time because no one I grew up with at the time knew anything about the game.”

Worthington remembers picking up one of his father’s golf clubs and swinging.

“I got the ball up in the air, and I was hooked,” he exclaimed.

Worthington’s career has soared.

This summer, he won the 76th Southern Ohio PGA Professional Championship in Columbus, shooting 10-under-par.

“It is historic,” Worthington said, noting the rarity of an African American topping the leaderboard.

Worthington credits his father and Tiger Woods, a 15-time major champion, for his success.

As a young teen, Worthington met woods during a First Tee and Woods Foundation event. Woods helped the young man with his swing and provided the kind of confidence that helped Worthington qualify to play for the PGA Championship in 2016.

Only the second African American in nearly a quarter-century to qualify for the PGA Championship, Worthington barely missed qualifying a year earlier.

Despite his success – or, perhaps, because of it – Worthington advocates for more African American participation.

“This beautiful, amazing, and majestic game needs more representation and more people who look like me and you involved,” Worthington declared.

“Hopefully, that can change,” he said.

“I think I was the first African American to win a Section Championship in Ohio. I’m one of just a handful of African Americans to tee it up in a major championship, and that’s a jaw-dropping stat that is the history of golf.”

Continuing efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the sport, the PGA of America and the PGA Tour have entered into a memorandum of understanding with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association that represents the Black Press of America.

Worthington added that he hopes his success will help the game build on its diversity, equity, and inclusion mission.

“We [African Americans] don’t have the support, access, and opportunity, that most of our peers are fortunate enough to have,” Worthington continued.

“It’s tough. As African Americans, we don’t have the type of social network our peers have to get that help and support. I hope I can have some type of exposure to the people who may not be introduced into the sport, and hopefully, that can change because this is an amazing game.”