Three Michigan youngsters were among eight earning trips to the National Drive, Chip and Putt Championship held at Augusta the Sunday before the Masters.
Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms, PJ Maybank of Cheboygan and Anika Dy of Traverse City showed their golf skills at Prestick Village Golf Club this past Saturday, winning places in their age groups at the regional competition.
I’m jealous of the parents. Trip to Augusta and all that.
Full press release follows:
Three Michigan Youngsters Win Trips to Augusta National in Drive, Chip and Putt
HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP – Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms, PJ Maybank of Cheboygan and Anika Dy of Traverse City will compete in the National Drive, Chip and Putt Championship on the Sunday before the Masters Tournament in April at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
The three Michigan youngsters were among eight – four boys and four girls – who won trips to Augusta in the age group regional competition at Prestwick Village Golf Club Saturday.
“I’ve watched on TV and thought it’s a really hard course, and then I played it on Xbox a bunch of times,” Smith said of Augusta National. “It’s really cool to get a chance to go there.”
A field of 80 junior golfers, including 30 from Michigan, competed in Saturday’s regional conducted by the Michigan Section of the PGA of American and the Golf Association of Michigan. The event, being presented for the second year, is a collaborative effort of the PGA of America, the United States Golf Association and The Masters Tournament Foundation in part to help grow the game of golf.
Smith, who won the boys age 14-15, Maybank, who won the boys 7-9, and Dy, who won the girls 12-13, will be joined in Augusta by Maxwell Moldovan of Uniontown Ohio (boys 12-13), Olivia Zambruno of Pittsburgh, Pa., (girls 14-15), Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto, Canada (girls 7-9) and a brother and sister, Isaiah Swan (boys 10-11) and Lydia Swan (girls 10-11) of North East, Pa.
The award-winning practice center at Prestwick was one of 10 regional qualifying sites across the country. Golfers competing were from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Canada, and each golfer hit three drives on the first-hole grid, three chips from the same spot and three putts from different spots for scores.
Smith, whose family has membership at Country Club of Detroit, said playing poorly earlier this summer on the Meijer Tour at Detroit Golf Club inspired him to practice his golf game at a higher level. He holed out one of his three chip shots and hit his three drives in the grid.
“I thought I could do it, but I was nervous that I wouldn’t do well,” he said. “It feels good to do it and get to go to Augusta. I think it is really nice of (Augusta members) to let a bunch of kids go there is cool.”
Maybank was fired up to get to compete at the same place as his favorite golfer PGA Tour star Rickie Fowler. He has been working since age four with Brian O’Neill, the director of instruction for Boyne Golf, and couldn’t wait to call and tell him the news.
“I practiced hard so I could have a chance in this and get to go to where they play the Masters,” he said. “My chipping, I stumbled there today, but I made up for it with my drives and my putts. I hit good drives.”
Dy, a GAM Junior Stroke Play champion earlier this summer on the day she turned 13, said she stayed calm and did especially well in the driving competition.
“I’ve never been to Augusta, so I’m really excited to go there,” she said. “Getting to go there is pretty amazing. I think it will hit me later that I’m going with all the best people who tried this. I know my parents are really excited about this.”
Some other Michigan golfers came close in the competition, including Westland’s Troy Watson, who was third in the boys 7-9, Jha Shikha of Troy, who as second in the girls 14-15, Danielle Staskowski of Washington, who finished third in girls 12-13, Rachel Hu of Northville, who was second in girls 10-11, and Maggie Pietila of Brighton, who was third in girls 10-11.