Ella June Hannant of Pikeville, Wayne County bested the competition to capture the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt to kick off Masters Week at the August National.
The 8-year-old was clutch as she sank two putts to capture the Girls 7-9 title.
“It feels amazing and very exciting [to win] especially with all of my family here,” Hannant said. “I just knew that I had to make the putts to win and that I had to stay calm if I wanted to get them close.”
In the Boys 7-9 category, it was Taighan Chea of Bothell, Washington who emerged as an overall winner. “It feels like I won the Masters,” he beamed.
He was third in the drive and second in the chip. He only had one chance to win and that’s to show up in the putt. That’s exactly what Chea did. “It felt like it was to win, and I just had to make it,” he said.
But his week is not finished yet. His next goal is to see his idol, Tiger Woods, compete in the Augusta National.
The Drive, Chip, and Putt have become a platform for young golfers to benchmark themselves against their peers in a true competition. The event started last summer with 268 qualifiers. The winners will advance sub-regional and regional qualifiers to get a ticket to Augusta.
Bubba Watson, who won the Masters two times in his career, said that the Masters is the peak competition for professional golfers. The same spirit of competition should also be expected in the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt even if the competitors are all kids.
“This is an event that is changing the game of golf. It’s going to take years to, but this will change how the game and really bring a whole new group of youngsters to it,” he said.