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Willie Mack III wins John Shippen, gets into Rocket Mortgage Classic

Willie Mack III wins John Shippen, gets into Rocket Mortgage Classic

Willie Mack III should be right at home in next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club despite not having the guarantee of a sponsor exemption.

The Flint native played his way in with Sunday’s victory in the John Shippen Invitational, holding on with a 7-under victory at Detroit Golf Club in the two-day, 36-hole qualifying tournament featuring the nation’s top Black professional and amateur golfers.

Mack matched the goal he set for himself more than a month ago, as he told the Free Press he hoped to play his way into a second berth in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Mack shot a 63 on Saturday, then followed with a 74 in Sunday’s final round.

“It’s always good to win, especially in conditions like these today,” Mack said. “I played well yesterday, wasn’t going my way today but I kind of just stuck in there, Keep telling myself I’m playing good and you’ll hit some good shots and hopefully something falls, and it did in the end.”

Mack finished two shots ahead of Nyasha Mauchaza at 5 under. Kevin Hall and Cameron Riley finished tied for third at 2 under and Greg Odom Jr. and Wyatt Worthington tied for fifth at 1 over. Mack also receives $13,200 for winning the John Shippen in the first year of the event having a championship purse.

Mack, 35, built a considerable lead on Saturday, firing a 9 under opener to enter Sunday with a five-shot lead. He racked up 10 birdies in the first round, resulting in a 30 on the back nine.

On Sunday, though, he had to grind through a tough front nine impacted by blustery winds, dropping to 6-under at the turn, with four bogeys and five pars. But Mack rallied to shoot a 34 on the back nine, including back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 to create a four-shot cushion heading down the stretch.

“I was just making some sloppy bogies in the first eight holes, a couple of three-putts,” Mack said. “But, I still had a lead so I knew that in the back of my head and just keep plugging along. It was rough out there. Nobody was really making a move so if I could just string together some pars and maybe a couple birdies it could go my way, and I’m glad it did.”

The field also struggled with the wind, which picked up 5-10 mph between Saturday and Sunday, according to Mauchaza, and changed approaches on nearly every hole.

“You just had to be mindful of that, it was definitely harder,” said Mauchaza, who will attempt to nab one of the final four spots in the 156-person field via Monday’s…


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