Tiger Woods announces Marcus Byrd as recipient of the 2023 Charlie Sifford memorial exemption
Tournament host Tiger Woods has announced Marcus Byrd as the recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption into the 2023 Genesis Invitational. Byrd will join the field at The Riviera Country Club February 16-19. Awarded annually since 2009, the Sifford exemption represents the advancement of diversity in the game of golf.
“Marcus has shown resiliency and perseverance in pursuit of a professional playing career,” Woods said. “These are qualities that remind me of Charlie and his journey. I look forward to watching Marcus compete at Riviera.”
Byrd competes on the Advocates Professional Golf Association (APGA) Tour, where in November he finished atop the standings for the Farmers Insurance Fall Series. The fall series title wasn’t the only victory of the season for Byrd. In September, he won the APGA Valley Forge Championship and in June 2021 he earned his first APGA Tour victory with a win at TPC Louisiana. The start at Riviera will be Byrd’s second career appearance in a PGA TOUR event. He made his TOUR debut at the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship.
“It’s a true honor to receive the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption into the 2023 Genesis Invitational,” Byrd said. “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.”
A native of Washington D.C., Byrd is the youngest of four kids and was introduced to golf by his father, Larry Byrd Sr. It was at the historic Langston Golf Course where Marcus was welcomed with open arms and grew to love the game. That love blossomed into a promising junior career that saw Byrd win the 2013 Georgia State Junior Championship and compete in the 2014 Sage Valley Junior Invitational and the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur.
In college at Middle Tennessee State University, Byrd helped lead the Blue Raiders to back-to-back conference championships in 2018 and 2019. Between the two championships, Byrd was injured in a car accident and missed the 2018 fall season. Upon his return to the course in the spring of 2019, Byrd made the most of his opportunities, earning individual wins at the Puerto Rico Classic and the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship. He also helped his team to a conference championship and an appearance in the NCAA Regionals. Byrd was named the 2019 Conference USA Golfer of the Year.
Shortly after beginning his professional career in 2020, Byrd’s father passed away. As he gets set to make his second start on the PGA TOUR, Byrd knows his father is with him.
“My dad was my best friend,” Byrd said. “Golf was one of those sports that he always played so I knew I had to play. I’m living the life we always dreamed of. It hurts doing it on my own, but I know he is super proud.”
Since 2009, an 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 and the winner of the 1969 Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park.
Over the past year, many past Sifford Exemption recipients have found success on the golf course. Among the notable accomplishments, J.J. Spaun (2016) earned his first career PGA TOUR victory at the 2022 Valero Texas Open. Spaun joins Cameron Champ (2018) as past exemption recipients to win on TOUR. Willie Mack III (2021) earned status on the Korn Ferry Tour for 2023 and Tim O’Neal (2019) earned status on the PGA TOUR Champions for 2023.
The full list of previous Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption recipients includes Vincent Johnson (2009), Joshua Wooding (2010), Joseph Bramlett (2011 & 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).
The Genesis Invitational will be held February 16-19 and broadcast on GOLF Channel and CBS. Tickets to the tournament are currently available here.