Marcus Byrd Receives Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption for 2023 Genesis Invitational
APGA Star Celebrates by Winning at LaJolla on Sunday
February 2, 2023
Riviera Country Club will be the site of the Genesis Invitational (originally Los Angeles Open) for the 60th time in its illustrious history, February 16-19. Since 2017, hosts Tiger Woods and Genesis USA have officially teed up the event by announcing the recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption during their annual pre-tourney Media Golf Outing. Last week, Marcus Byrd was awarded the 2023 exemption given for the advancement of diversity in the game of golf.
"Marcus has shown resiliency and perseverance in pursuit of a professional playing career. These are qualities that remind me of Charlie and his journey. I look forward to watching Marcus compete at Riviera," said Woods.
Byrd, who has been competing on the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour since 2021, will join the PGA Tour field at Riviera in a few weeks. Remarkably, he double-downed and celebrated by winning the APGA Tour Farmers Invitational this past Sunday. In challenging conditions on the Torrey Pines South Course down the road in La Jolla, Byrd earned a two-round, four-over, five-stroke victory for his third APGA Tour career win.
Byrd: "The conditions today were extremely difficult, but that's really what we want as players... To be able to birdie the final two holes and win this event is extremely gratifying and a great way to start my season." That not only earned him $30,000 for the winner's share but Byrd also received another exemption into the Honda Classic, which kicks off in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida the week after the Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades.
Byrd, who led the Farmers Insurance Fall Series, won his first APGA event at TPC Louisiana in 2021 and 2022 APGA Valley Forge Championship. The start at Riviera will be Byrd's second career PGA Tour appearance as he made his debut at the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship, held in the Dominican Republic.
"It's a true honor to receive the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption into the 2023 Genesis Invitational," said the 25-year old Byrd from Washington D.C., introduced to golf by his father, Larry Bird Sr. "To think that I'll forever be a part of this tournament's storied history means a lot. I cannot wait to compete at Riviera and represent Mr. Sifford with my play."
Media Day also featured Cameron Champ, the 2018 recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption. There have been 14 Sifford award winners beginning with Vincent Johnson in 2009. Champ was the first recipient to win a PGA Tour event, the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship. He also won the 2019 Safeway Open and the 2021 3M Open.
"Mr. Sifford's legacy has had a huge influence not only on why I play the game of golf, but also how I seek to use the game as a vehicle for positive change, the celebration of diversity and to make a difference in our communities, all examples that were unquestionably set by Charlie Sifford," stated Champ when he received the award in 2018.
Champ started his own foundation which focuses on accessible STEM education and golf development programming. The Cameron Champ Foundation website states that it is committed to unlocking the potential in and transforming the lives of youth from underserved and underrepresented communities. He also hosts and initiated the Mack Champ Invitational in 2020, a tournament for the game's best junior golfers of diverse backgrounds.
After failing to make the cut at Riviera in his first three attempts, Champ finally broke through last year when he tied for 67th with an even-par 284 total. Champ feasted on Riviera's three par-5 holes during the week, recording three birdies on Hole 1, a birdie and an eagle on Hole 11, and two birdies and one eagle on Hole 17. The famous par-3 Hole 6 was his greatest challenge on the course as he registered three bogeys in four rounds on the George C. Thomas and William P. Bell designed gem.
The 14 Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption recipients includes: Vincent Johnson (2009), Joshua Wooding (2010), Joseph Bramlett, the only two-time recipient in 2011 and 2020, Andy Walker (2012), Jeremiah Wooding (2013), Harold Varner III (2014), Carlos Sainz, Jr. (2015), J.J. Spaun (2016), Kevin M. Hall (2017), Cameron Champ (2018), Tim O'Neal (2019), Willie Mack III (2021), Aaron Beverly (2022) and Marcus Byrd (2023).
Only three Sifford recipients have made the cut at Riviera the year of they were given exemption: Jeremiah Wooding tied for 42nd in 2013, Harold Varner III tied for 70th the following year in 2014, and Joseph Bramlett tied for 51st in his second attempt in 2021.