North Clayton High School sophomore Mariah Stackhouse was asked to participate in an assembly Thursday morning at the school gymnasium.
Missing math class has rarely proven so profitable.
After Stackhouse, one of the best junior golfers in the country, gave a speech and presented a tournament trophy she had won to the school, she received a prize of her own. LPGA star Christina Kim, one of Stackhouse's heroes, surprised Stackhouse by walking into the gym with a bouquet of flowers and then presented her with an invitation to an April tournament with 15 of the Tour's best players.
"I was kind of confused," said Stackhouse, 15, of Riverdale. "There was a [Olympic] gold medalist here. I was like, something big must be about to happen."
Stackhouse, who won the Georgia State Women's Match Play championship at 13 and the Women's State Amateur title at 14, accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in the Mojo 6, a new tournament taking place in Jamaica April 15-16. The made-for-TV event is sanctioned by the LPGA but is not an official tour event that counts towards the money list.
Still, it carries a $1-million purse and is clogged with the tour's best. It will air on CBS in May.
Four of the top five players in the World Golf rankings – Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Cristie Kerr – have committed to play. The event will have a unique format in which entrants will play each other head-to-head in six-hole matches and choose their opponents. The tournament was conceived by an entertainment company – Mojo Marketing & Media – co-founded by 2000 Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ed Moses, who was present at the assembly.
Stackhouse is intent on going to college and will play the event as an amateur.
"I really can't believe it," said Stackhouse, who was part of a three-woman team that won the U.S. Women's Team Championship for Georgia last summer. "I'm shocked. It'll probably be [Friday] before it really sets in. It's huge to me. I don't even know what to say."
Besides her prodigious talent, Moses said he chose Stackhouse from a pool of more than 30 players because of her character and community involvement.
Said Moses, "We hoped we could have an opportunity to inspire her to hopefully ... inspire other people."