Pro golf player Kevin Hall was given the opportunity to play in the Genesis Open last weekend due to The Charlie Sifford Exemption. Tiger Woods started the exemption, which allows a standout minority player to compete in the tournament. The Tiger Woods Foundation owns the Genesis Open.
“I was a little shocked and it took a while for it to sink in,” Hall said. “It means a great deal to me because I have been working hard for a long time and to get a chance to tee it up with the best players in the world is amazing.”
At the Genesis Open, Hall reached the second round with 151 shots. With a 32.14 percent driving accuracy, Hall earned one birdie, 10 pars, five bogeys, and two double bogeys.
“It’s purely a ball striker’s course. You have to know where you are going and be able to hit the ball there. You have to have pretty good touch around the greens, there is a lot of slope and they are fast,” he said. “It’s also a course full of history, a lot of the game’s greatest have played Riviera.”
Hall had the opportunity to meet Sifford during his high school years and play golf with him at the Valhalla Golf Club.
“I got to spend time with him at his house and listen to stories about his time on the Tour,” Hall said. “Just listening to all those stories and seeing how confident he was of himself gave me just a little bit more confidence to go out and do what I am doing.”
Sifford broke the color barrier in the PGA Tour in 1961. Hall made history also by being the first African American to earn a golfing scholarship from Ohio State University. With 11 shots, Hall won the Big 10 championship in 2004. He put in several hours of training to prepare for the championship.
“When the tournament started, I knew I had put in the necessary preparation to play well and it was just time to go have fun and compete. After the first few holes I was on auto pilot, something a lot of people call ‘being in the zone,’” Hall said. “Birdies were coming left and right. That experience helped me prepare for my pro career because it showed me what I had to do in order to make it as a professional.”
The Genesis Tour was the sixth PGA Tour for Hall, he has also done 12 Web.com Tours. Hall has been recently playing in the mini-tour circuit.
A bout of H-flu meningitis almost took Hall’s life at the age of 2, however the illness took his hearing. A family friend, Sonny Barnes, introduced Hall to golfing. Hall noted how he showed interest in sports early in his life.
“I was 11 when I got started,” he said. “It’s a difficult game and it teaches you a lot of things that you need in life such as patience, making solid plans and executing them one step at a time. It’s fun.”
His training and interest in the sport has propelled him to the Junior World Golf Championships.