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Two Kentucky junior golfers place in the 7th Annual Drive, Chip and Putt National finals at Augusta

Staff report

Eight junior golfers – four boys and four girls – were crowned champions at the seventh annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals held Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club and broadcast live on Golf Channel across North and South America.

Two Kentuckians competed in the competition:

• Athena Singh of Morehead who placed 10th in the 10-11 division and

• Bradford Lacefield of Versailles who placed 8th in the 12-13 division.

Athena dreams of being a pro golfer with the LPGA. She looks up to Tiger Woods because even after all his injuries, he was still able to win the PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament.

Bradford is a first-time finalist but has participated in Drive, Chip and Putt since 2014. He enjoys the game because every round is a new challenge.

Conducted in partnership between the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America and the USGA, Drive, Chip and Putt is a free youth golf development initiative for junior golfers of all skill and ability levels, aimed at sparking a lifelong interest in the game. The initiative welcomes boys and girls, ages 7-15, in four age categories.

Athena Singh

Tens of thousands of participants had the opportunity to qualify for the event, which began with more than 300 local qualifiers at courses across all 50 states in the summer of 2019. From there, the top finishers advanced through more than 60 subregionals to one of 10 regional qualifiers at some of the nation’s most acclaimed venues and championship sites.

Finally, the 80 regional winners across the four age divisions (40 boys and 40 girls) earned a trip to Augusta National Golf Club to participate in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the originally scheduled 2020 National Finals were postponed, and the 80 National Finalists were invited to compete today in the 2021 National Finals on the eve of the Masters Tournament.

The four girls age division champions were: Alexis Card of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada (ages 7-9); Elyse Meerdink of Tampa, Fla. (ages 10-11); Yana Wilson of Henderson, Nev. (ages 12-13); Ali Mulhall of Henderson, Nev. (ages 14-15).

The four boys age division champions were: Lucas Bernstein of Fresno, Calif. (ages 7-9); Brady Barnum of Dublin, Ohio (ages 10-11); Sam Udovich of Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (ages 12-13); Jaivir Pande of Houston, Texas (ages 14-15).

“Our goal since the founding of this event was to provide opportunities that would inspire young boys and girls to develop and deepen their love for the great game of golf,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. “These 80 National Finalists showed immense passion and talent, and seeing them perform at Augusta National is something we are proud and fortunate to celebrate.”

Bradford Lacefield

“Drive, Chip and Putt is a showcase for the future of the game,” said PGA President Jim Richerson. “Starting at the grassroots level with events hosted by PGA Professionals across our 41 Sections nationwide, junior golfers have an opportunity to achieve an amazing dream of competing in the National Finals at Augusta National. The talent on display today was outstanding, and we congratulate each of the finalists, led by the eight girls and boys who will now hold the title of Drive, Chip and Putt champion.”

“We are thrilled to successfully add another Drive, Chip and Putt to the history books,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “Each year we are consistently impressed with this talented group of golfers and this year is no different. We are thankful to each participant for inspiring junior golfers across the nation, and we look forward to following their journeys in the years ahead.”

Points were awarded in three individual skill categories (driving, chipping and putting), with the winner in each skill receiving 10 points, second place receiving 9 points, and so on, all the way down to 1 point. The player with the most points following all three competitions was declared the overall winner of the age group.

In the drive portion, the better of two distances was used for the score. Each golfer then took two chips; the closest cumulative distance to the hole determined the winner. Players then moved to Augusta National’s 18th green where they attempted two putts – from 30 and 15 feet – and used the cumulative distance from the hole to determine the score.

Registration is now open on drivechipandputt.com for the 2021-22 qualifying season, which begins May 1with more than 330 free local qualifiers in all 50 states for boys and girls, ages 7-15.

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