Champions Crowned In Inaugural Drive, Chip And Putt Championship - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Champions Crowned In Inaugural Drive, Chip And Putt Championship

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Augusta, GA - Eight golfers – four boys and four girls – were crowned as champions in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship held on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club.

Conducted by in partnership between the Masters Tournament, The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association (USGA), the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a national golf development initiative for boys and girls, ages 7-15.

Approximately 17,000 youngsters had opportunities to qualify in the inaugural event, which began with local qualifying at courses throughout the country. From there, the top finishers advanced to one of 11 regional qualifiers, with the winners in each of the four age divisions earning a trip to Augusta National, site of the annual Masters Tournament.

“You’ve got three of the greatest organizations in golf,” said Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National. “Collectively, we’re pretty good at organizing things that are golf related. Everybody had a specific role and I was proud of the way it was executed.

“Last night at the welcoming dinner, the feeling in the room was unbelievably powerful and emotional and exciting. I knew if that spilled over to [Sunday], it would be a very special day. These kids are truly remarkable.”

The four female champions were Kelly Xu, 9, of Santa Monica, Calif. (age 7-9); Lucy Li, 11, of Redwood Shores, Calif., (10-11); Natalie Pietromonaco, 13, of Auburn, Calif. (12-13) and Hunter Pate, 14, of Las Vegas. (14-15).

The four male champions were Treed Huang, 9, of Katy, Texas (7-9); Leo Cheng, 11, of Northridge, Calif. (10-11); Bryson Bianco, 13, of Tallahassee, Fla. (12-13) and Patrick Welch, 14, of Providence, R.I. (14-15).

Points were awarded in each individual skill category, with the winner receiving 11 points, second 10, third 9, etc. The player with the most points following all three competitions was declared the overall winner.

In the drive portion, the better of two was used for the score. The drive had to land within a 30-yardwide
boundary. Each golfer then took two chips, with the cumulative distance from the hole totaled
to determine the score.

Players then moved to the practice green, where they had one putt from 6
and 30 feet before walking to Augusta National’s 18th hole and attempting a 15-footer from the spot
and to the same hole location where Adam Scott converted his final-round birdie en route to his
playoff victory at the 2013 Masters. The closest cumulative distance from the hole was totaled to
determine the score.

Here are the individual age-group results:
Girls 7-9
Xu got off to a strong start with 10 points in the driving and chipping events and held on for a narrow
victory over Raina Ports, 9, of Tucson, Ariz. Xu totaled 24.5 points, 1.5 more than Ports. Alexa Pano,
9, of Lake Worth, Fla., finished third with 22.5 points.
“It was the best day of my life,” said Xu, a fourth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School.

Girls 10-11
Li, who made national headlines last summer by becoming the youngest match-player qualifier in
U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links history and the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Women’s
Amateur, edged Jacqueline Nguyen, 10, of Houston, by a point (26-25), thanks to winning both the
driving and chipping portions of the competition. Li’s second drive traveled 227.2 yards after her
first ball failed to stay in bounds.
Meghan Lane, 11, of Wilton, Conn., won the putting event and finished third overall with 23 points.

Girls 12-13
Thanks to a strong showing in the chipping competition (11 points), Pietromonaco, an eighth-grader
at Newcastle Elementary School, edged driving champion Christine Wang, 12, of Houston, 24-23.
Ashley Menne, 12, of Surprise, Ariz., shared third with Ashley Gilliam, 12, of Manchester, Tenn.

Girls 14-15
Pate didn’t win any of the individual competitions, but a pair of 10-point showings in the driving and
putting skills enabled the Grant Sawyer Middle School eighth-grader to post 27 points, 1.5 more than
Johanna Alberto, 15, of Kingwood, Texas. Alberto, putting last, needed to get inside 2.2 feet to win
the title, but watched her putt roll several feet past the hole. Riley Rennell, 15, of Columbia, Tenn.,
Agnes Chu, 14, of Plano, Texas, and Maddy Kokich, 15, of University Place, Wash., shared third with 23 points.
“They had the standings [on the scoreboard], but I wasn’t sure how much I was down by,” said Pate. “I was too nervous [to look].”

Boys 7-9
Huang, a third-grader at Michael L. Griffin Elementary School who has been playing golf for six years, won the driving competition and then held on for a two-point win over Logan Medcalf, 8, of Lynden, Wash. Huang totaled 27 points to Medcalf’s 25. Medcalf won the chipping portion of the event. Jonathan Honeywell, 9, of North Fayston, Vt., finished third with 22 points.

Boys 10-11
Cheng, a fifth-grader at Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School, holed his final putt on the 18th green to win the putting portion and the overall title by three points (30-27) over Bradford Chandler, 11, of Fairfax, Va. Cheng also claimed the chipping portion of the competition. Joshua Ryan, 10, of Norristown, Pa., finished third with 24 points.
At the prize ceremony, Cheng received his award from defending champion Scott.

Boys 12-13
Bianco, an eighth-grader at the Maclay School, posted a 261-yard drive to win the opening skill and then held off Jack McMullin, 13, of Seattle, 25-24, to win the overall title. McMullin won the chipping event. Caden Christopherson, 13, of Chandler, Ariz., finished third with 23 points.

Boys 14-15
Welch, an eighth-grader at Nathan Bishop Middle School, saved his best for last, holing the 15-foot putt on the 18th green to a thunderous roar to win the overall competition, 28-25, over Juan Contreras, 15, of Phoenix. Welch opened by winning the driving event. Devin Andrews, 15, of Kirkland, Wash., took third with 24 points.

“It was amazing,” said Welch of the crowd’s reaction. “I just tried to take it in as much as I possibly could. I was surprised by how loud it was.”
Registration is now open at for juniors wishing to participate in the 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. The competition is being expanded to allow 50,000 playing opportunities at 250 host sites in June and July. The top three finishers will advance to one
of 50 sub-regionals in August, with the top two players in each division qualifying for the regionals slated for 10 sites in September. A total of 80 players – 40 boys and 40 girls – will earn a trip to Augusta National Golf Club for the finals on April 5, 2015.
About the Masters Tournament

The Masters Tournament Foundation, inspired by the enduring philosophies of Masters Tournament founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, is committed to promoting golf’s domestic and international development through financial investment and active participation in initiatives aimed at preserving the traditions of the game and sharing its many virtues.

The Masters Tournament – since its very beginning – strives to provide added exposure to the game of golf and inspire interest in the sport worldwide. For more information about the Masters, visit

About the United States Golf Association
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches, attracting players and fans from more than 160 countries. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, equipment standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings.

The USGA’s reach is global with a working jurisdiction in the United States, its territories and Mexico, serving more than 25 million golfers and actively engaging 150 golf associations.

The USGA is one of the world’s foremost authorities on research, development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and invests in the development of the game through the delivery of its services and its ongoing

“For the Good of the Game” grants program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.

For more information about the USGA, visit

About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public’s interest in the game, the desire to
play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.
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