LOS ANGELES – Tiger Woods has announced former Jackson State standout Tim O’Neal as the recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption for the 2019 Genesis Open.
Awarded since 2009, the exemption has represented the advancement of diversity in the game of golf. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Sifford’s 1969 LA Open victory, his second and final PGA TOUR victory.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Tim compete in the Genesis Open,” Woods said. “Like Charlie did as a player, Tim has shown great determination in his professional career. I know Charlie would be proud to have Tim playing in the Genesis Open as the Charlie Sifford exemption.”
At the Genesis Open, O’Neal, 46, will be making his seventh-career PGA TOUR start, and his first since 2015, when he advanced from sectional qualifying to play in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. O’Neal has three career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica victories, most recent coming in 2016, and he has also carded victories at the 2018 Georgia Open and the 1997 Georgia Amateur Championship.
Prior to turning professional, O'Neal had a distinguished amateur career winning 16 college tournaments during his time at Jackson State. He also won the Georgia Amateur Championship in 1997.
In 2018, O’Neal played on the APGA Tour where he earned Player of the Year honors after one win and four top-five finishes. 2018 marked the second time O’Neal has won the APGA Tour’s Player of the Year and he remains the tour’s all-time leading money winner. Over the course of his professional career, O’Neal has played on the PGA TOUR, the Web.com TOUR, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica circuit and had stints on the APGA Tour, Asian Tour, European Professional Development Tour in Morocco and the eGolf Tour in the U.S.
“In 1999 I had the opportunity to play a round of golf with Mr. Sifford and he has had huge influence on me,” O’Neal said. “Mr. Sifford has been an example on how to carry yourself on and off the golf course. I am extremely humbled and grateful to have received the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption for 2019 Genesis Open.”
Since 2009, the exemption has been given to a golfer representing a minority background to play in the annual PGA TOUR event at Riviera. In 2017, the exemption was re-named to honor the memory of Charlie Sifford, the first African-American player to compete on the PGA TOUR.