AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Eighty junior golfers representing 30 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces have earned an invitation to Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the second annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship National Finals on April 5, 2015 prior to the start of the Masters Tournament.
A joint initiative by the Masters Tournament, the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior competition for boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 15.
Results of the 10 regional qualifiers – the third and final stage leading to the 2015 National Finals – yielded five returning competitors from last year's event. Kelly Xu of Santa Monica, Calif., is the lone returning champion, who will compete in the Girls 10-11 Division after winning the Girls 7-9 Division in Augusta last April.
The road to Augusta began with local qualifying in May, June and July, which was held at more than 250 sites throughout the United States. The top three scorers per venue, in each of four age categories in separate boys and girls divisions, advanced to 49 sub-regional qualifiers in August. Two juniors in each age and gender division then competed at the regional level through September.
The top finisher from each regional site's age/gender divisions earned a place in the National Finals, which will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. All local, sub-regional 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.
All championship scoring at the local, sub-regional 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 champion 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 final will be scored based on a 30-point system, offering the player with the longest 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.