MSU's Andrew Walker invited to inaugural John Shippen, will compete for spot in RMC

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Michigan State senior Andrew Walker headlines the list of early invites to The John Shippen, the inaugural two-day golf invitational that will award an exemption for a top Black amateur or professional into the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic and LPGA Tour's Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

Walker, of Battle Creek, just completed his redshirt senior season of college, finishing 20th at the Big Ten championships. Before Michigan State, he was a three-time Michigan Mr. Golf, and a two-time state champion.

Michigan State's Andrew Walker will play in the inaugural John Shippen golf tournament at Detroit Golf Club.

Walker was one of 16 players, eight males and eight females, to be announced Tuesday as participants in the tournament, set for June 27-28 at Detroit Golf Club. The top male will get to play in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, set for July 1-4 at DGC, and the top two-female team will play in the Great Lakes Bay Invitational, a team tournament scheduled for July 14-17 in Midland.

The invitational, named after the country's first Black club professional, is the PGA Tour's latest diversity initiative, designed to open up opportunities for top Black professionals and amateurs. Intersport, which helps market the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and Woods and Watts Effect collaborated to create The John Shippen.

“We are excited for the women and men who have been invited and have accepted our invitation, to participate in the inaugural The John Shippen National Golf Invitational,” Sommer Woods, tournament lead for The John Shippen and volunteer vice-chair for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, said in a statement. She's also co-founder of Woods and Watts Effect. “Our hope is that The John Shippen provides them with an opportunity to advance their golf careers in a way that has previously not existed for them.”

The John Shippen is covering all costs, including travel and lodging, for the players.

Joining Walker on the men's side will be fellow amateurs Mulbe Dillard (Florida A&M) and Greg Odom (Howard), and professionals Sebastian Crampton, Kamaiu Johnson, Nyasha Mauchaza, Tim O'Neal and Trey Valentine. The women's invites include 16-year-old Amari Avery and fellow amateurs Christyn Carr (North Carolina A&T), Zoe Slaughter (Houston) and Amari Smith (Houston Baptist), and professionals Shasta Averyhardt, Alexis Belton, Sierra Sims and Anita Uwadia.

Additional players will be announced in the coming weeks. A tournament committee was formed to identify deserving college and pro players.

Flint's Willie Mack III was set to play in The John Shippen, but he's received one of the tournament's three other sponsor's exemptions. He will make his third PGA Tour start.

We're running a new-subscriber special. Support local journalism, and subscribe here.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984