Mark David Johnson is set to depart the Golden Isles for the Great White North.
A seventh-place finish at a Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament in Dothan, Ala., on March 10-13 earned the former Coastal Georgia men’s golf standout full exemption status for the first six 2020 tournaments. He’s also subject to a re-shuffle for tournament eligibility based on the season’s earnings.
Johnson capped off his college career by winning the individual title at the NAIA National Championships and receiving numerous accolades that included: the NAIA Arnold Palmer National Individual Champion Award, the Jack Nicklaus Award, the NAIA Men’s Golfer of the Year honors, and an NAIA All-American nod.
He briefly worked to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour, but he ultimately found his home on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.
“I am so happy for Mark David,” said Mariners men’s golf coach Mike Cook. “He’s worked so hard since winning the national championship 10 months ago, and now it is paying dividends.
“We all know he has the talent, but with professional golf you take the bumps and bruises that come with it. He’s going to do well in Canada.”
Playing at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Highland Oaks, Johnson fought through a field of more than 115 competitors to shoot a 4-under 284 and finish in a four-way tie for seventh along with Thomas Bass, Ryan Elmore, and Mason Overstreet.
Johnson was briefly poised to make a run at full exemption status for the 2020 season as the tournament’s medalist following an opening round 66 that saw him finish with two birdies to draw to within two strokes of first place. The Glynn Academy alumnus also birdied two straight on Nos. 3 and 4, and three straight from Nos. 10-12.
Johnson’s position remained in third, albeit now three strokes back of leader, and eventual medalist Cameron Young, after firing off a 70 in Round 2, but the wheels came off a bit over the final 36 holes.
A third-round 74 caused Johnson to tumble down the leaderboard a bit, and when combined with the 69 and 70 shot by the two players in front of him, effectively took him out of the chase for first place.
But Johnson closed the tournament with a 72 to salvage a spot in the top 14 and half a season worth of exemption.
Despite the national hiatus on sports, Johnson could return to the links in a few months. The Canada Life Open is currently still scheduled to be held at the Seymour Golf & Country Club in Vancouver on May 28-31.
“The first tournament has not been postponed or anything so for now I am just trying to prepare as though everything is going to stay on schedule,” Johnson said.