Local Juniors Excel in Drive, Chip & Putt
Sophia Li hits a drive during the 2019 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals in front of past Masters Tournament champions Bubba Watson and Mark O'Meara.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (April 7, 2019) — Met Area juniors rose to the occasion, Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club, as they competed in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals in front of family, patrons, and even past Masters Tournament champions including Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, and Bubba Watson.
Sophia Li of Fresh Meadows, N.Y., grabbed the spotlight by coming from behind to capture the Girls 10-11 division. Having scored nine points for her drive and four points in chipping, Li trailed by seven points entering the final putting challenge, which features a putt from both 15 and 30 feet. Li drained her efforts from both distances—one of just two juniors to do so—to score 10 points and rise to the top of the standings.
"It was in my mind, but I tried to push the thought of winning out to focus more on my game," Li told Charlie Rymer on having to make both putts. Li, who began playing golf at six years old, named her father James as the person who's had the biggest influence on her game, saying, "He's helped me and supported me throughout this entire time."
Nathan Drogin of Essex Fells, N.J., and Megha Ganne of Holmdel, N.J., both captured runner-up honors in their respective division. Drogin, a regular competitor in MGA junior championships, tallied 22 points (7-6-9) in the Boys 14-15 division. Ganne, who represented the MGA in last fall's French-American Challenge, also tallied 22 points, coming up just one point shy of the top finisher.
Goldens Bridge, N.Y., native Owen Walsh had the top putting performance in the Boys 14-15 division, leading him to a fourth-place finish.
The 2019 National Finals completed the sixth season of Drive, Chip and Putt, which has steadily grown since its introduction. The free nationwide junior golf development competition is a joint effort, founded by the Masters Tournament, United State Golf Association and The PGA of America. Participants advance through local, sub-regional, and regional qualifying in each age/gender category. Registration for the 2020 Drive, Chip and Putt is open and local qualifying will be available in all 50 states.