A putt to remember for a California teen at Augusta
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Ty Griggs' favorite memory of the Masters was Adam Scott making a birdie putt on the 18th hole that led to him winning the green jacket.
''That putt was sweet,'' Griggs said.
Even sweeter was the putt the 13-year-old Griggs made Sunday, a 15-footer on the same green that Scott made his in 2013. For Griggs, the stakes felt just as high. With a crowd surrounding the 18th green, the California teen holed the putt and won the Boys 12-13 age group in the Drive, Chip & Putt national finals at Augusta National.
He only started playing golf six years ago. He thought the closest he would ever get to Augusta National was in front of his television said.
''It's really one of those magical places that you've always seen on TV but you never end up,'' Griggs said. ''And here I am.''
The names of the winners change each year at the Drive, Chip & Putt, but not the memories.
The 80 finalists from four age groups, boys and girls, went through qualifying in the three skill sets and earned a trip to Augusta National. The driving and chipping competitions took place on the practice range, and the putting on the 18th green.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson came out to the 18th green to watch. Jason Day took time out of his practice to see a competition that wasn't available when he was first learning the game two decades ago in Australia. Scott, Nick Faldo and Mark O'Meara were among the former champions who presented the trophies.
''To be able to come onto this property and perform at a high level in the competition, that's something they'll never forget,'' O'Meara said. ''The memories, the pictures. Whether they become professional golfers or not, I think this just sets a great standard for them for the rest of their life.''
Griggs is from Manteca, California, and he attends the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Frys.com Open, the two closest PGA Tour events to his home. He also has golf in his blood. Francis Ouimet, who put golf on the front pages in America with his 1913 U.S. Open victory, is a distant relative.
He tried to qualify last year and didn't make it, but watching the Drive, Chip & Putt last year on TV made him determined to get to Augusta National. Leaving as a winner was even better. Griggs recalled a 35-foot eagle putt he made early in his round when he won the Veritas Junior World last summer. That became a memory.
''This was the biggest putt I've ever made,'' he said. ''Making that putt on the last hole, I won't forget that.''
- Emerson Blair of West Point, Mississippi (Girls 7-9).
- Stephen Robert Hernandez, Houston (Boys 7-9).
- Alexa Pano, Lake Worth, Florida (Girls 10-11).
- Christian Kim, Vernon Hills, Illinois (Boys 10-11).
- Kayla Sam, Anaheim Hills, California (Girls 12-13).
- Alyssa Montgomery, Knoxville, Tennessee (Girls 14-15).
- Michael Thorbjornsen, Wellesley, Massachusetts (Boys 14-15).
Hernandez plays at Memorial Park in Houston, and he said he got fired up watching the Drive, Chip & Putt on television last year. His father, Robert, plays golf and his son wanted to play to spend time with him. ''We never thought it would get him here,'' the father said.
Hernandez won the driving and chipping portions of the contest, and the precocious 9-year-old introduced himself to a small group of reporters as ''the champion.''
''Fun makes you win,'' he said, sizing up the entire morning with one phrase.