Photo: Megha Ganne of Holmdel won the 64th NJSGA Junior Girls Championship this summer
Eighty junior golfers representing 27 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces have earned an invitation to Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the sixth annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, to be played on Sunday, April 7, 2019, prior to the start of the Masters Tournament.
Conducted in partnership between the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America and the USGA, Drive, Chip and Putt is a free, nationwide youth golf development program open to boys and girls, ages 7-15, in four age categories. The three-pronged competition tests the skills essential to playing the game – accuracy in driving, chipping and putting.
Results of the 10 regional qualifiers – the third and final stage leading to the 2019 National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club – yielded 15 returning competitors, including impressive four-time finalists Megha Ganne, Treed Huang and Vanessa Borovilos. Returning finalists are:
Vanessa Borovilos (2018 Girls 10-11 National Champion and 2016, 2015 National Finalist), of Toronto, Ontario
Caitlyn Chin (2016 National Finalist), of Greenwood Village, Colo.
Megha Ganne (2018, 2017 and 2015 National Finalist), of Holmdel, N.J.
Nolan Haynes (2016, 2014 National Finalist), of Barberton, Ohio
Maye Huang (2017 Girls 7-9 National Champion), of Katy, Texas
Treed Huang (2018, 2017 National Finalist and 2014 Boys 7-9 National Champion), of Katy, Texas
Sara Im (2018 Girls 12-13 National Champion), of Duluth, Ga.
Jay Leng, Jr. (2015 Boys 7-9 National Champion), of La Jolla, Calif.
Patmon Malcom, Jr. (2018 National Finalist), of Alpharetta, Ga.
Kasey Maralack (2018 National Finalist), of Snoqualmie, Wash.
PJ Maybank (2018 Boys 12-13 National Champion), of Cheboygan, Mich.
Julia Misemer (2015 National Finalist), of Overland Park, Kan.
Madilyn Newman (2017 National Finalist), of Knoxville, Tenn.
Sahish Reddy (2018 National Finalist), of Duluth, Ga.
Kathryn VanArragon (2016 National Finalist), of Blaine, Minn.
Other qualifiers from New Jersey are Rayhao Feng of Short Hills (Boys 7-9), Mihir Roperia of Cranbury (Boys 10-11) and Nathan Drogin of Essex Fells (Boys 14-15).
Local qualifying for the sixth season began in May and was held at 290 sites throughout all 50 states this summer. The top-three scorers per venue, in each of the four age categories in separate boys and girls divisions, advanced to 57 subregional qualifiers in July and August. Two juniors in each age and gender division then competed at the regional level in September, held at some of the top courses in the country, including several U.S. Open and PGA Championship venues.
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 the Golf Channel. All local, subregional 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.
After a 142-point performance in the regional qualifier at Congressional Country Club (2011 U.S. Open Championship host), Megha Ganne won the Girls 14-15 division to become a four-time National Finalist. “It never gets old,” she said. “I wish there was no age limit. This is my last year, and I’m really excited to be going back,,” said Ganne, who this summer won the 64th NJSGA Junior Girls Championship.
All championship scoring at the local, subregional and regional qualifiers is based on a 25-point-per-shot basis, with each participant taking three shots per skill. Each participant accumulated points per shot in all three skills (maximum of 75 points per skill = 25 points per shot x 3). The overall winner in each age category was determined by the participant with the most points accumulated between all three skills (maximum of 225 points = 75 points per skill x 3). For each skill, the point system is based in incremental distance measurements, rewarding accuracy and distance in the drive skill, and proximity for chipping and putting skills. Difficulty increases with age.
At the National Finals, one champion will be named from each age/gender division. Each finalist will be scored based on a 30-point system, offering the player with the best drive 10 points, the player with the closest cumulative chips 10 points and the player with the nearest cumulative putts 10 points, in each separate skill. The highest total composite score will determine the winner.