Evans boy, 79 others make 2024 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Eighty junior golfers representing 31 U.S. states, one Canadian province and Australia have earned an invitation to compete at Augusta National Golf Club in the 10th annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
Among them will be Kipp Madison of Evans, who traveled across Georgia and up to Tennessee for the regional qualifier at The Golf Club of Tennessee.
Next spring, he’ll be riding just 15 minutes from his home to Augusta National for the 2024 National Finals.
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With a total score of 160, he placed first overall in the Boys 12-13 division.
After his younger brother, Zane, competed in the 2022 National Finals, Kipp said, “I knew that soon enough it was going to be my time.”
The finals will be April 7, 2024, prior to the start of the 88th Masters Tournament.
FULL LIST OF FINALISTS:
Conducted in partnership with the U.S. Golf Association, the Masters Tournament and the 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-prong competition tests the skills essential to playing the game – accuracy in driving, chipping and putting.
Results of the 10 regional qualifiers – the third and final stage leading to the 2024 National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club – yielded seven returning competitors, including three-time National Finalist Champa Visetsin and 2022 National Champion Hudson Knapp.
Returning finalists are:
- Champa Visetsin (2021, 2022 National Finalist), of Sudbury, Mass.
- Calista Han (2022 National Finalist), of Lewis Center, Ohio
- Hudson Knapp (2022 National Finalist), of Marietta, Ga.
- Anna Midyett (2023 National Finalist), of Bennington, Neb.
- Emory Munoz (2023 National Finalist), of Lockport, Ill.
- McKenna Nelson (2021 National Finalist), of Beaver Dam, Wisc.
- Lily Wachter (2023 National Finalist), of St. Augustine, Fla.
Local qualifying for the 10th season of Drive, Chip and Putt began in May and was held at hundreds of sites across the country this past summer. The top three scorers per venue, in each of the four age categories in separate boys and girls divisions, advanced to subregional qualifiers in July and August. The top two juniors in each age/gender division then competed at the regional level in September and October. Regional qualifying was held at 10 courses around the country, including multiple U.S. Open and PGA Championship venues.
The top finishers from each regional site’s age/gender divisions – a total of 80 finalists – earned a place in the National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, which will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. All local, subregional and regional qualifiers were conducted by the 41 Sections of the PGA of America, with PGA of America Golf Professionals providing support at each facility hosting a qualifier.
Notes from regional qualifying:
- After completing all three disciplines in the Girls 10-11 age division at Scioto Country Club, Calista Han of Lewis Center, Ohio – a 2022 National Finalist – was tied atop of the leaderboard with Kylie Miller of Mayfield, Ky., a 2023 National Finalist. During a playoff to break the tie, Han sunk her first putt and scored 20 points on the second to punch her second ticket to Augusta National. “I just knew I had to make it,” she said. “I’ve been working hard on my chipping and putting.” In the Boys 10-11 division, Flynn Lewis, another Ohioan, also won a playoff to earn his trip to Augusta National, where his late grandfather and standout amateur golfer Bob Lewis competed in seven Masters Tournaments and earned the Silver Cup as Low Amateur in 1987.
- At TPC Boston, Champa Visetsin of Sudbury, Mass., earned her third trip to the National Finals with consistent performances across all three disciplines: co-medalist in driving, second in putting and first in chipping. She edged out the second-place finisher by one total point (125) to seal her victory in the Girls 14-15 age group. Consistency also secured Aarya Tsarong her place as a National Finalist, having placed fifth in driving and third in both chipping and putting to take first overall in the Girls 10-11 division. For Tsarong, the great-grandniece of the 14th Dalai Lama, “The key was to stay composed today.”
- Drive, Chip and Putt continued to be a family affair for the Swan family at Aronimink Golf Club. Keziah Swan of North East, Pa., tallied 115 total points to win the Girls 10-11 age group and become a first-time DCP National Finalist, following in her siblings’ footsteps: her sister Lydia and brother Isaiah both competed at the 2015 National Finals (with Lydia becoming the Girls 10-11 champion), and her sister Anna was a 2022 National Finalist. “I’m excited but I’m a little emotional,” Keziah said of qualifying to play at Augusta National herself. “I’m looking forward to going to Augusta and seeing all the amazing places there.” Sporting a Masters shirt and matching cap, Ethan Jung of Fort Lee, N.J., worked his way up the leaderboard across all three disciplines in the Boys 7-9 division. In the end, he totaled 139 points – a 30-point edge over the runner-up – to earn his spot in the 2024 National Finals.
- “It feels like a miracle,” said Hayes Pethtel after placing first overall in the Boys 10-11 age division at Champions Golf Club to become a first-time National Finalist. The lefty from Belton, Texas, shined on the green, sinking his 15-foot putt and scoring 65 out of 75 possible points in the discipline. In the Boys 12-13 division, the winner came from far beyond the Lone Star State: Jesse Linden traveled all the way from his home in North Rothbury, Australia. With a total score of 151, he took first place overall by a 13-point margin.
- Lily Wachter of Saint Augustine, Fla., is a National Finalist for the second consecutive year. She gradually climbed the leaderboard at Sea Island Golf Club, placing fifth in driving, co-medalist in chipping and first in putting to earn first place overall in the Girls 10-11 division. With his victory in the Boys 10-11 age group, Hudson Knapp of Marietta, Ga., secured his second trip back to Augusta National, where he was the Boys 7-9 champion in the 2022 National Finals. Knapp’s passion for playing and practicing the game was clear to see at Sea Island – after his win, he handed his father his first-place medal and asked, “Can you hold this? I’m going to go hit balls.”
- At Chambers Bay, the fourth time was the charm for Abigail Lin of Folsom, Calif. In her fourth appearance at a Drive, Chip and Putt regional qualifier, she tallied 147 total points to take first in the Girls 14-15 age division. Connor Holden of Canby, Ore., is also now a first-time National Finalist. He rolled his final 30-foot putt just inches from the hole, scoring 65 points in the discipline and 166 points overall – the highest total score of any competitor at Chambers Bay – to win the Boys 14-15 title. “I am good at two-putting,” said Holden. “I guess I am a good pressure putter.”
- Three Coloradans punched their ticket to Augusta National with their victories at Castle Pines Golf Club. Simon White (Boys 14-15) and Landry Frost (Girls 14-15), both of Colorado Springs, Colo., topped their divisions with 150 and 118 total points, respectively. Frost, who missed qualifying for the 2023 National Finals by just four points, said that second place finish motivated her to work extra hard this past year: “When I saw that other people were getting interviewed and stuff, I was like, ‘I really want to be there.’” In her first time competing in Drive, Chip and Putt, Sydney Liddell of Parker, Colo., drained a 30-foot putt to advance to the National Finals in the Girls 7-9 division. “It kind of surprises me a little that I made it my first time,” she said.
- San Diego, Calif., was well-represented on the leaderboard at Desert Mountain – Outlaw Course, as three of the four girl finalists hail from the city: Ellie Ji (Girls 7-9), Tara Liu (Girls 10-11) and Zadie Posternack (Girls 14-15). Posternack, who finished in second by just one point at the 2022 qualifier at Desert Mountain, found redemption by scoring 16 points more than the runner-up this year (172 total). “Just getting to do what I love, which is golf, is super fun,” she said. In the Boys 10-11 age division, consistency proved key for Ryan Kim of Los Angeles, Calif. He took first in driving, second in chipping and tied for third in putting to tally 135 total points and claim first place overall. Going to Augusta National, he said, is “a dream come true.”
- AtThe Golf Club of Tennessee, Isabelle Chandler of Cornelius, N.C., started the day off strong, placing first in both driving and chipping. In the end, she tallied 106 total points to win the Girls 7-9 age division by a 16-point margin.
- At TPC Deere Run, the final regional qualifier of the season, Texas Terry of Manor, Texas, won the Boys 10-11 division by one point (120 total) – the closest competition of the day. “I’m feeling proud of all the hard work I did, and I’m grateful for my parents and coaches for letting this opportunity come,” said Terry, who picked up the game just a few years ago at age 6. “I’m looking forward to the environment (at Augusta National). To be able to step on the grass, it’s just going to be amazing.” Over in the Girls 14-15 division, McKenna Nelson of Beaver Dam, Wisc., punched her second ticket to compete at Augusta National. “Drive, Chip and Putt has done so much for me,” said Nelson, whose two drives over 280 yards and two chips that landed within four feet of the hole helped her to overall victory. “It’s given me the motivation, always made me work for what I wanted. Augusta National’s obviously the end goal. I think that’s made me what I am.”
All scoring at the local, subregional and regional qualifiers is based on a 25-point-per-shot basis, with each participant taking three shots per skill. Each participant accumulated points per shot in all three skills (maximum of 75 points per skill = 25 points per shot x 3). The overall winner in each age category was determined by the participant with the most points accumulated across all three skills (maximum of 225 points = 75 points per skill x 3).
For each skill, the point system is based in incremental distance measurements, rewarding accuracy and distance in the drive skill, and proximity for chipping and putting skills.
At the 10th annual National Finals, one champion will be named from each age/gender division. Each National Finalist will be scored based on a 30-point system, offering the player with the best drive 10 points, the player with the closest cumulative chips 10 points and the player with the nearest cumulative putts 10 points, in each separate skill. The highest total composite score will determine the winner.
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