AUGUSTA (WJBF) – Preparations for the 87th Masters Tournament are underway. Tiger Woods, Billy Horschel and Aiken resident Kevin Kisner were among the early arrivals to the Tournament Practice Area Sunday afternoon.
Earlier Sunday, the best junior golfers in the world took center stage at Augusta National Golf Club for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. The event serves as a glimpse at the future of golf. Five competitors in this week’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur were former Drive, Chip and Putt National finalists.
Eighty junior golfers representing 29 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces earned an invitation to compete in the event that has become a tradition on the Sunday prior to the Masters Tournament.
Conducted in partnership with the USGA, Masters Tournament and PGA of America, Drive, Chip and Putt is a free, nationwide youth golf development program open to boys and girls, ages 7-15, in four age divisions. The three-pronged competition tests the skills essential to playing the game – accuracy in driving, chipping and putting.
Competitors in each age group participated in the driving and chipping disciplines at the Tournament Practice Area before moving to the iconic No. 18 green for putting. Their combined score through all three disciplines determined the winners.
Eight junior golfers – four boys and four girls – were crowned champions from the tens of thousands of participants that attempted to qualify for the event, which began with 342 local qualifiers at courses across the country in the summer of 2022. From there, the top finishers advanced through 60 subregionals to one of 10 regional qualifiers at some of the nation’s most acclaimed venues and championship sites, according to a news release from Augusta National Golf Club.
The 80 regional winners across the four age divisions (40 boys and 40 girls) earned a trip to Augusta National Golf Club to participate in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
The four girl champions were:
- Ashley Kim – Cerritos, CA (7-9)
- Alexandra Phung – Forest Hills, N.Y. (10-11)
- Maya Palanza Gaudin – East Falmouth, MA (12-13)
- Martha Kuwahara – Northbrook, IL (14-15)
The four boy champions were:
- Knox Mason – Portland, TN (7-9)
- Neal Manutai – Laie, HI (10-11)
- Leo Saito – Hilo, HI (12-13)
- Jake Sheffield – Knoxville, Tenn. (14-15)
“We are extremely proud of these 80 boys and girls who have gone through three stages of qualifying to get here. To watch them here with their parents and grandparents, with the smiles on their faces, is really gratifying,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament.
For final results, click here.
Registration is now open for the 2024 Drive, Chip and Putt qualifying season with 345 free local qualifiers in all 50 states. To find the location nearest you, click here.
This story will be updated throughout the day.