The Mack Champ Invitational was bigger in every way in 2022, and it’s bound to get even bigger thanks to the national television exposure the tournament received last weekend.
Will Lowery, creator of the Beyond the Fairway podcast, was at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston all weekend to send live reports to Golf Channel viewers. Check out the videos below to see his interview with Jeff Champ, Co-Founder and CEO of the Cameron Champ Foundation; highlights from the tournament; and Lowery’s appearance on Golf Today.
Alona Avery and KJ Ofahengaue won the boys and girls titles at the second annual Mack Champ Invitational with steady performances down the stretch under tough, windy conditions.
The wind was howling all day at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, with gusts reaching 45 miles per hour.
Cameron Champ was on hand to watch the final round and was impressed with the juniors’ ability to overcome the conditions.
“It was amazing,” he said. “This is a great golf course. With this wind and these conditions, it can make an easy golf course extremely hard, and a hard golf course even harder. It just showed how good they are.”
Avery, from Riverside, CA, shot 70-78 for a 4-over total and edged Shyla Brown of McKinney, TX, in a one-hole playoff in the girls 13-18 division. Avery’s sister Amari won last year’s MCI and now plays at the University of Southern California.
Brown appeared to have the tournament locked up, but she finished with a double bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18 to fall back into a tie with Avery, who parred the final three holes. Avery then won the playoff on No. 1, making par 5 to Brown’s 7.
Ofahengaue, from Lehi, UT, finished with five straight pars to shoot 73. His 1-over total for the tournament was good enough to beat Trey Rusthoven from St. Peters, MO, by a shot. Roman Solomon, last year’s boys champ, finished five shots back after shooting 79 on Sunday.
Ofahengaue is a cousin of Tony Finau’s and had two brothers playing in this year’s MCI.
Axel Monssoh from Miami, who also won his age division last year, shot 5-over 77 for an 8-over total to win the boys 11-12 division by six shots. Myla Robinson from Eastvale, CA, won the girls 11-12 division with a 10-over total after shooting 75 on Sunday.
The Mack Champ Invitational was created to honor the legacy of PGA Tour pro Cameron Champ’s grandfather, who introduced Cameron to the game. The tournament seeks to identify and boost the prospects of elite junior golfers of diverse backgrounds. This year’s field had players from all over the country as well and England and the Bahamas, and 15 players in the field have commitments to play college golf.
Asked what his grandfather would think if he were alive to see this tournament, Champ said Mack would have been thrilled.
“He’d be laughing, cracking up. He’d be so excited. I don’t think he ever would have dreamed of anything like this happening in his name. For us to continue his legacy and to create a fun environment for the kids to come enjoy and hang out, it’s just awesome to see.”
On Saturday afternoon, our Mack Champ Invitational competitors got the chance to learn from the best.
Cameron Champ was joined by Sean Foley, his coach and one of the prominent teaching pros in golf, and Roger Steele, a major social media presence and the founder of Hipe Media. They fielded questions from the players and offered sage advice on achieving success on and off the course.
Roman Solomon, who won the boys championship at the inaugural Mack Champ Invitational last March, and Alona Avery, whose sister Amari was our first girls champion, are in the lead after the first round of play at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston.
Avery, from Riverside, CA, shot a 2-under 70 to take a two-shot lead in the 13-18 division over Shyla Brown from McKinney, TX. Solomon shot a 1-under 71 and leads Matthew Vital (Bethlehem, PA), Jamison Bryant (Milton, GA) and KJ Ofahengaue (Lehi, UT) by a shot in the boys 13-18 division.
Axel Monssoh from Miami, who also won his age division last year, shot 3-over 75 to lead the boys 11-12 division by four shots. Aiden Dinani (Upland, CA) shot 79 and Xeve Perez (Evans, GA) shot 80. In the girls 11-12 division, Myla Robinson from Eastvale, CA, shot 7-over 79 and leads Aleah Shields-Rodipe (Calgary, Alberta) by two shots.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 15, 2022) – For the second straight year, the Epson Tour will welcome an MVP Invite exemption from three elite minority championships into select tournaments on the “Road to the LPGA.” Each MVP Invite will be selected by the respective amateur tournament’s committee and provided the chance to compete in a designated Epson Tour event.
“We are excited to continue offering MVP Invite exemptions in 2022. This unique opportunity embraces the LPGA legacy of pioneering diversity and changing the face of golf, a foundation that started with the LPGA Founders more than 70 years ago,” said Mike Nichols, Chief Business Officer of LPGA Qualifying Tours and member of the LPGA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “The PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship and National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship both have a rich legacy showcasing players from HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, while the Mack Champ Invitational featured an incredible group of competitors for the inaugural event in 2021 that will only get stronger.”
The Mack Champ Invitational is the first tournament that will provide an Epson Tour MVP Invite in 2022. Named after PGA TOUR professional Cameron Champ’s late grandfather Mack Champ, the invitational honors Mack’s legacy by identifying talented, diverse players. Tournament play runs March 19-20 at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston and the MVP Invite will earn an exemption into the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes Golf Club in Garden City, Kan. from April 29-May 1.
During the week of the Houston Open, the PGA Tour took an in-depth look into the Mack Champ Invitational and the impact our tournament has had on diverse junior golfers like Allyn Stephens, a Houston native who will play her college golf for Texas A&M.