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Youth Golf

Drive, Chip and Putt National Finalists Set


Series: Youth Golf

Published: Sunday, September 27, 2015 | 1:31 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Eighty junior golfers representing 30 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces have earned an invitation to Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the third annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship National Finals, to be played on Sunday, April 3, 2016, prior to the start of the Masters Tournament.
 
A joint initiative by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the Masters and the PGA of America, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide youth golf development program open to girls and boys ages 7-15 – competing in separate divisions in four age categories – focusing on the three fundamental skills employed in golf and tapping the creativity and enthusiasm of young golfers.
 
Results of the 10 regional qualifiers – the third and final stage leading to the 2016 National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club – yielded seven returning participants from previous National Finals:
 
Played in the 2015 National Finals:
  • Kynadie Adams, of Gallatin, Tenn., won the Girls’ 12-13 age group at Valhalla Golf Club
  • Vanessa Borovilos, of Toronto, won the Girls’ 7-9 age group at Oakmont Country Club
  • Anika Dy, of Traverse City, Mich., won the Girls’ 14-15 age group at Medinah Country Club
  • Jayla Kucy, of Camrose, Alberta, Canada, won the Girls’ 10-11 age group at Chambers Bay
Played in the 2014 National Finals:
  • Tiya Chowdary, of Belle Mead, N.J., won the Girls’ 12-13 age group at The Country Club
  • Nolan Haynes, of Barberton, Ohio, won the Boys’ 10-11 age group at Oakmont Country Club
  • Alexa Pano, of Lake Worth, Fla., won the Girls’ 10-11 age group at TPC Sawgrass
     
The road to the National Finals began with local qualifying in May, June and July, held at more than 250 sites throughout the United States. The top three scorers per venue, in each of four age categories in separate boys’ and girls’ divisions, advanced to 50 sub-regional qualifiers in July and August. Two juniors in each age and gender division then moved on to 10 regional qualifiers, taking place over two weekends in September.
 
The top finisher from each regional site’s age/gender divisions – a total of 80 finalists – earned a place in the National Finals, which will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. All local, sub-regional and regional qualifiers were conducted by the 41 Sections of the PGA of America, with PGA Professionals providing support at each facility hosting a qualifier.
 
Notes from Regional Qualifying:
  • Weston Miller of Jackson, Ky., rolled to a win in the Boys’ 7-9 division at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., finishing with 96 points as he racked up in chipping (40) and putting (41). Miller is one of two Kentuckians to earn a spot in the National Finals, as he'll be joined by Jay Nimmo, of Benton, whose score of 133 points was 15 points clear of anyone in the Boys’ 12-13 division. Nimmo's score, which was bolstered by 65 points in putting, would have won any other age group except for the Boys’ 14-15 division. There, Chase Venn, of Columbia, Mo., scored in the 40s in every category and finished with 136 points for a well-earned six-point victory.
     
  • Miguel Flores Acton of San Angelo, Texas, made his first two chips en route to winning the Boys’ 10-11 division at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas. His favorite golfer is fellow-lefty Bubba Watson, who appeared on numerous national TV shows in March to promote the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. Dallas native Julia Gregg, who won the Girls’ 14-15 division, played in the girls U.S. Junior Amateur at Tulsa, Okla., in July.
     
  • Nicole Criscone, of Clifton Park, N.Y., fell four points short of making it to the National Finals last year in the Regional Final at Bethpage Black. This time at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., she advanced in the Girls’ 10-11 division after finishing with 124 points. Tiya Chowdary of Montgomery, N.J., is returning to Augusta after a one-year hiatus. She advanced in 2014 and didn’t attempt to qualify for 2015, but her 132 points were easily enough to earn her a return trip in the Girls’ 12-13 division. Chowdary has played in several New Jersey state events and one American Junior Golf Association competition.
     
  • Skylar Thompson, 15, of Buford, Ga., playing in her third regional qualifying event in the last year of her eligibility, finally earned her place in the National Finals by winning the Girls’ 14-15 division with 144 points at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Thompson qualified for her first U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship earlier this summer. Alexa Pano, of Lake Worth, Fla., who competed in the 2014 National Finals, won the Girls’ 10-11 division.
     
  • Ty Griggs, from Manteca, Calif., overcame modest performances in chipping (31 points of a possible 75) and putting (42 points) with the best driving performance of any golfer in any classification – hitting drives of 278, 286 and 273 yards. He compiled 140 points overall to win the Boys’ 12-13 division at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
     
  • Three National Finalists are from Canada; two of them – Vanessa Borovilos (Girls’ 7-9 division) and Elaine Giantsopoulos (Girls’ 12-13 division) – are from Ontario and advanced from the Oakmont Country Club regional in Oakmont, Pa. Borovilos scored 121 points and advanced with a 19-point cushion, while Giantsopoulos’ 107 points were enough to qualifier her for the National Finals by one point.
     
  • Tate Herrenbruck, of Salina, Kan., will be making his first trip to Augusta next spring after winning the Boys’ 12-13 division at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., but it won’t be the first time down Magnolia Lane for his family. Tate’s older brother, Grant, advanced to the National Finals last April, finishing sixth in the Boys’ 14-15 division.
     
  • At Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., Anika Dy, of Traverse City, Mich., won the Girls’ 14-15 division with a final score of 157. Dy, who is one of seven participants who will return to the National Finals for a second time, had the best score of anyone at Medinah on Saturday after finishing first in chipping and putting and tied for second in driving.
     
  • Arielle Keating, from Colorado Springs, Colo., holed the second of her three chip shots from 15 feet in winning the Girls’ 14-15 division at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif. Keating participated in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship last year but didn’t get past the sub-regionals.
     
  • Brian Feinstein, of McLean, Va., advanced to the National Finals after scoring 126 points in the Boys’ 14-15 division at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Feinstein is the nephew of notable journalist and author John Feinstein.
     

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