Monday, May 29, 2023
HomeSPORTSAt Augusta, champions are crowned on a beautiful day.

At Augusta, champions are crowned on a beautiful day.

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On Sunday, 80 youthful competitors fought in the Drive, Chip, and Putt National Finals, which neatly tended to the present. “This is easily the happiest day in golf,” Peter Jacobsen said during the Golf Channel broadcast of the ninth Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. Nearly a year ago with local qualifiers at 342 sites throughout the Unites States.

Drive, Chip and Putt is a national youth development programme available to boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 15. It is run in collaboration with the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, and the USGA. The top three finishers in each local qualifying round proceeded to the sub regional qualifying rounds, where the top two competitors competed for spots in the National Finals at the Masters’ main venue. Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion, who gave the awards in the Girls 12-13 category, said, “It’s very tough to get to this level. At Augusta National, competing and succeeding is always satisfying.

Just getting to Augusta turned out to be half the fight for Martha Kuwahara of Northbrook, Illinois, the Girls 14–15 winner, who used powerful efforts in the Drive and Putt skills to win in her second National Finals performance. Her Saturday flight to Atlanta was scheduled to leave O’Hare Airport early in the morning, but it didn’t take off until mid-afternoon due to bad weather in the Chicago region. When we arrived, it was midnight, according to Kuwahara. “I missed everything, including gatherings and registering. We all said, “All the bad luck is gone; all the good luck is here today.” And everything just came together.

Kuwahara successfully changed her strategy in the Drive discipline after waking up at 5 a.m., making the winning shot from 241.9 yards. The first one I struck last year was out of bounds, and the second one was awful, Kuwahara recalled. The plan from the previous year was to make the first shot softly and then bomb the second, but clearly that did not work out. This year, my instructor and I simply chose to compete in both runs. It came out fantastic.

Being able to deliver in a pinch is difficult. Megha Ganne, an Augusta National Women’s Amateur competitor and three-time participant, said, “I think DCP is genuinely the most pressure I’ve ever felt.” “I’ve participated in some really prestigious competitions, but nothing compares to the anxiety I felt when I had to make those six shots when I was 11 or 12 years old. I just hope the students understand how important it is and that it’s okay to feel nervous.

Maya Palanza Gaudin, the winner of the Girls 12–13 division, received support from her father, Stephen, who helped her manage her nerves by asking her questions about Harry Potter. Gaudin, who qualified for the National Finals on her sixth try, exclaimed, “I can’t believe it.” The mere act of arriving here was strange, and winning is another level altogether.

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Brady Shaw, who competed in the Boys 10-11 category, emerged in second place but not before making an unusual move in the Putt tournament. Shaw sank the 30-footer and 15-footer to become the sixth DCP competitor to sink both shots at the National Finals, which was necessary after Drive and Chip competition. Shaw’s flawless performance placed some pressure on Nealson Manutai, who had a two-point lead heading into the Putt phase. Manutai did what he needed to do, scoring four points and accruing 23 total points to beat Shaw, who was closing quickly, by two points. Being here is great, said Manutai. It is a wonderful event. The wife of Tony Finau’s relative is the mother of Manutai. Nealson refers to the PGA Tour pro as “Uncle Tony” and Manutai has played with him frequently.

Manutai claimed, “He’s really encouraging me to keep going and to keep working hard.” He gave me a lot of advice. The Road to the Masters Invitational, an EA Sports video game challenge in which Finau is competing, was open to all winners on Sunday night.

Playoffs were needed to choose winners in two categories. Boys 7-9 saw Knox Mason beat Jacob Egan, and Boys 12-13 saw Leo Saito triumph over Aarav Lavu. After placing sixth in Girls 7-9 in 2019 and vying for third in Girls 7-9 in 2021, Alexandra Phung in the Girls 10-11 division finally won the National Finals. With her 22 points, Phung defeated Hana McGarry and Adelyn Rosado by a margin of two points.

Girls 7-9: Ashley Kim beat Minlin Ou by three points to win. Jake Sheffield, a ninth-grader, triumphed in the Boys 14–15 division, paying homage to his late relative Mike, who passed away in 2020, as well as to himself. Jake’s father, Kevin, introduced his elder sibling, Mike, to golf, which in turn influenced his nephew’s interest in the sport.

“The Uncle Mike Report” is the group conversation that informs everyone in the Sheffield family of Jake’s golfing advancement. Sheffield said, “Even though my Uncle Mike isn’t with us anymore, I attribute him my passion of this sport. Sheffield was adored by sports on Sunday.

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