Ohio teaching pro who once got a lesson from Tiger Woods earns berth into 2022 PGA Championship

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AUSTIN, Texas — Wyatt Worthington II stood just off the 18th green at Barton Creek Spa and Resort and shook his head slowly.

After posting a steady 73 on a blustery day, the 35-year-old teaching pro from a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, saw his name near the top of the leaderboard at the PGA Professional Championship and knew he was in the clear — Worthington was one of 20 players to earn a berth into next month’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

This wasn’t the first time he’d made the cut — in 2016, he became the second Black PGA Club Professional to earn a berth in the major, following Tom Woodard of Denver who qualified in 1990 and played in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick — but the road back made this just as special as Worthington’s first foray.

“Looking around, to even see my name on the leaderboard, I’m still in shock. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said. “I know it needs to be a quick turnaround because there’s a lot of things that be done.

“But you know, I’m blessed. I definitely didn’t have my best by any means, but to finish this high and to be in the top 20, and to have another crack at the PGA Championship, I still can’t believe it.”

Worthington, who teaches at The Golf Depot at Central Park in Gahanna, is aware of the game’s need for diversity and inclusion. He hopes his story will help shed light on the need to bring more people of various races into the game, not just as players, but in the industry as a whole.

And while Worthington has made a career out of giving lessons, he once received instruction from perhaps the game’s greatest player — Tiger Woods. During his freshman year in high school at Groveport High School, Worthington was part of a Tiger Woods Foundation event at the now-shuttered Bridgeview Golf Course in Columbus.

Wyatt Worthington II hits his shot from the 16th tee during the final round of the 54th PGA Professional Championship at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa on April 20, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

“I’m looking at the bigger picture,” he said. “Having this type of exposure for African-Americans not only in the golf industry but it’s seeing the bigger picture in and getting more people who look like me involved in this game, that’s what it’s really about.”

During the final round, Worthington battled high winds on the Fazio Foothills course, but maintained his presence on the back nine, dropping just a single shot on the 13th hole.

“Once the wind picked up, it was like somehow the fairways just got a little tighter, some of them got a little smaller, but I think they kind of just had the trust your lines and trust your numbers,” Worthington said, crediting his caddie Andy Gibson.

Worthington finished in a tie for fourth with Ryan Vermeer at 4 under for the event, a shot behind the duo of Michael Block and Jared Jones and six shots behind champion Jesse Mueller. The low 20 scorers earned exemptions into the 2022 PGA Championship, which will be held May 16-22 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

And how did Worthington plan to celebrate an invitation to a major?

“I need to rest,” he said. “I’m actually in agony right now, a lot of pain with my knees. I thought I was going to withdraw, to be honest. Nothing too crazy. Maybe I’ll have a milkshake.”

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Ohio teaching pro who once got a lesson from Tiger Woods earns berth into 2022 PGA Championship

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