Eight junior golfers – four boys and four girls – were crowned champions at the sixth annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals held Sunday, April 7, at Augusta National Golf Club.
Conducted in partnership between the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America and the USGA, Drive, Chip and Putt is a free, nationwide youth golf development program open to boys and girls, ages 7-15, in four age categories.
Tens of thousands of participants had the opportunity to qualify for the event, which began with 290 local qualifiers at courses across all 50 American states last northern summer. From there, the top finishers advanced through 57 sub regionals to one of 10 regional qualifiers at some of the nation’s most acclaimed venues and championship sites. Finally, the 80 winners across the four age divisions earned a trip to Augusta National Golf Club to participate in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on the eve of the 2019 Masters Tournament.
“This is certainly one of the most meaningful endeavours of Augusta National Golf Club, without a doubt,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. “The goal of our three organisations [the Masters Tournament, PGA of America and USGA] is really the same, and that’s hopefully to inspire these young people to create passions so they make golf a lifelong endeavour.”
The four female champions were: Angela Zhang of Bellevue, Washington (ages 7-9); Sophia Li of Fresh Meadows, New York (ages 10-11); Yana Wilson of Henderson, Nevada (ages 12-13); Nicole Gal of Oakville, Ontario (ages 14-15).
The four male champions were: Conner Ford of Mount Vernon, Kentucky (ages 7-9); Sahish Reddy of Duluth, Georgia (ages 10-11); Matthew Vital of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (ages 12-13); Treed Huang of Katy, Texas. (ages 14-15).
“If you want to be reminded of why we all do what we do, just come here some day and see how cool [Drive, Chip and Putt] is,” CEO of the PGA of America Seth Waugh said. “It’s just a window to the game, and that’s what we’re all about. We’re all about trying to create opportunities for accessibility, to be welcoming, to be inclusive and bring it all together and hopefully end up here some day on the big course.”
“If you think about the essence of [Drive, Chip and Putt], it has exposed tens of thousands of kids to the game over the years, but it also inspires,” CEO of the USGA Mike Davis said. “I think that’s in so many ways what an event like this does. It inspires greatness, it inspires young kids to be champions and we couldn’t be more proud.”
Points were awarded in each individual skill category (Drive, Chip and Putt), with the winner receiving 10 points, second 9 points, third 8 points, etc. The player with the most points following all three competitions was declared the overall winner of the age group.
In the drive portion, the better of two drives were used for the score. Each golfer then took two chips with the cumulative distance from the hole totalled to determine the score. Players then moved to Augusta National’s 18th green where they had two putts – from 15 and 30 feet – with the cumulative distance from the hole totalled to determine the score.