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Fundraising event for Vincent Johnson set for March 9

Vincent Johnson smiles when he thinks about his future. Some Lake Oswego supporters are working to help him achieve that future here. Vincent Johnson dreams of making the PGA Tour. But it will take money to turn that dream into reality, and that's where a couple of the golfer's friends come in.

John DeCosta and Brent Summers are helping to plan a special fundraising event for March 9 at the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn. If all goes well, 150 teams will register to play, $30,000 will be raised and Johnson will be well on his way to achieving his dream.

“One of my biggest difficulties is raising enough money for the PGA Tour,” Johnson says. “The best route for a player like myself is to go on the Canadian tour. The people who are putting on the March 9 event really believe in what I’m trying to do. They’re all here to say, ‘Go for it! We’ll ride with you.’"

One of those supporters is DeCosta, a longtime Lake Oswego real estate broker.

“By having this, Vincent won’t have to wash dishes at night to raise money,” DeCosta says. “He can concentrate on playing golf.”

Few golfers are able to join the PGA Tour and immediately blow the field away. Most successful golfers have to scrap, scrape and struggle before achieving their big breakthrough. Often, the key to making it big is not talent but the stamina and will to stay the course, whatever it takes.

The seeds of Johnson’s dream were planted by his father, a golf course mechanic in Portland, and an older brother who was himself a high school golf hotshot. Young Vincent originally tagged along on golf outings because he liked hanging out with them, but eventually the game became his obsession.

“I wasn’t that big,” Johnson says. “But in golf, it doesn’t matter how big you are. It’s the self-ownership of the sport that really appealed to me.”

Johnson played the game well enough in high school to earn a golf scholarship to Oregon State University. One of his inspirations, he says, was the career of Tiger Woods, who, like Johnson, is African-American. While at OSU, Johnson won two tournaments and set an all-time school scoring record.

“That was the validity that told me, ‘Yes, you can keep going with this,’" Johnson says.

After he graduated from college, Johnson's biggest break came when he met former PGA pro and Wilsonville resident Brian Henninger, who came to believe in Johnson’s vision and also became a good friend who offered unending support. Henninger knew what it was like to struggle to make the PGA Tour, and he liked what he saw in Johnson’s game and character.

Henninger also knew some Lake Oswego friends who could help make Johnson's vision come true. Summers and DeCosta jumped at the chance.

“This event will raise enough money so Vincent can reach his full potential,” says Summers, a Lake Oswego attorney. “Making the PGA Tour is such a hard thing to do, but Vincent has it pretty well figured out. Brian sent Vincent to see me to figure out how to make it happen.

“It would be miraculous to sell out the tournament," Summers adds. "That would give Vincent a good opportunity in one fell swoop.”

“I’m a networker guy,” says DeCosta. “When I heard about this event, I said, ‘I’m in.’ I jumped at the chance to help Vincent. This is turning into an entire community thing to support this young fellow.”

For more information about the March 9 fundraiser, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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