NEWS

Drive, Chip and Putt champ Griggs still 'in a daze' after Augusta visit

By Bob Highfill
Published on

MANTECA, Calif. -- Ty Griggs can't remember exactly how he felt standing over the putt.

The day had been a whirlwind -- the drive down Magnolia Lane, shaking hands with Bubba Watson and posing for pictures with celebrities.

The 13-year-old eighth grader at Neil Hafley Elementary School in Manteca had goose bumps and a tingling sensation down his spine as he and the other 79 competitors in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club began their competition on April 3, the Sunday prior to the 80th Masters.

Griggs settled his nerves and won the driving portion of the competition. He finished runner-up in chipping. The Boys 12-13 title came down to the final test -- putting. Griggs needed his slippery, downhill 12-foot putt on Augusta's hallowed 18th green to stop no more than 9 inches from the cup to win.

"I was definitely trying to make it," Griggs said. "That's really hard to get that putt to stop within 9 inches. You basically have to make it."

Griggs settled over the ball with a large gallery surrounding the green, including his family and several past Masters champions in green jackets.

"I don't even remember how I felt," he said. "I just wanted to make the putt and celebrate afterward."

Griggs stroked the ball and watched as it rolled and rolled and fell in the middle of the hole. He looked up in wide-eyed amazement, pumped his right fist and collected the ball with the crowd roaring. Griggs amassed 28 points, one more than Skyler Fox from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

"I knew I had to make it," Griggs said. "When I did, I just went into shock. I was definitely trying to make it."

Griggs was congratulated by Condaleeza Rice, gave a quick interview for the Golf Channel and posed for a photo with Watson and the trophy. Ty's father, John Griggs, said he was more nervous than his son during the competition.

"It was unbelievable to see him doing what he loves doing," John Griggs said. "And also what really surprised me was the way he conducted himself with everybody before, during and after the competition. He represented us very well."

Griggs began playing the game at age 8 with his father, uncles and grandfather, Tom Ouimette, a distant relative of Francis Ouimet, who won the U.S. Open in 1913 as a 20-year-old amateur (the variation in the spelling of their last names is a result of the translation from the French-Canadian version of the name). Griggs took to the game almost immediately and has evolved into one of the state's top juniors. This week, Griggs will compete in the American Junior Golf Association Preview at Cypress Ridge Golf Club in Arroyo Grande.

Griggs plans to attend East Union High and compete on the golf team. He wants to be a professional golfer.

Besides Watson, Griggs' favorite golfer is Jordan Spieth. Like Spieth, Griggs has a sister battling a disability. Madalyn Griggs, 11, suffers from a rare disorder known as mutated dopamine transmitter, one of nine cases in the world, and is confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. Spieth's sister, Ellie, suffers from a neurological disorder akin to autism. Spieth's closeness with Ellie gained national attention last year. Ty and Madalyn share a similar bond.

"I help my parents do a lot," Griggs said. "I put on movies for her. I can help feed her and stuff like that. I always push her in the stroller. I don't complain because things could be a lot worse. She's proud of you no matter how you play. She's just happy to see me."

John Griggs is proud of his son for more than golf.

"Besides the golf, we're really proud of him as a big brother," he said. "He does a lot for her. He's definitely been a good big brother. Jordan is one of his favorites due to the fact that Jordan does so much with his sister and her condition. Ty's aware of that."

Ty said his experience at Augusta will help him down the road.

"It's a crazy confidence booster," he said. "Definitely."

This article was written by Bob Highfill from The Record, Stockton, Calif. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.