April 6, 2021 - 10:24 am
Updated April 6, 2021 - 12:12 pm
The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship finals may have taken place in the heart of Georgia at Augusta National on Sunday, but they certainly had a Southern Nevada feel to them.
Local players took home two of the eight titles, and one more participant came achingly close to a third win.
High school freshmen and good friends Yana Wilson and Ali Mulhall each won their divisions, bringing home trophies to Henderson, while Las Vegas’ Nicholas Kilgore finished second in his competition.
Wilson won the girls 12-13 competition to reach elite company, becoming one of only a handful of players to claim a Drive, Chip and Putt crown for a second time. Mulhall dominated the girls 14-15 division.
The competition brings junior players from all across the country to Augusta National for the finals, where they compete under the eye of club members in their green jackets and a few players arriving early to prep for the Masters. Players reach the finals by advancing through local and regional competitions.
For the finals, the 10 players in each division are awarded points from 1 to 10 for longest drive, and combined distance from the cup on two chips and two putts.
For Wilson, 14, it’s the latest achievement for a player already out of room for trophies in her home. The Coronado High School freshman has won more than 110 junior tournaments.
Wilson won the chipping portion, thanks to holing one of her two attempts, was second in driving with a 253-yard effort, and seventh in putting.
Mulhall dominated the girls 14-15 division, placing first in chipping and driving (251 yards) and third in putting. It’s the latest accomplishment for Mulhall, who counts the 2019 Wyoming State Amateur she won as a 14-year-old among her triumphs.
The girls, friends for seven years, were each other’s biggest fans at Augusta. While she was still competing, Wilson said she saw on the scoreboard that Mulhall had already won.
“It was really cool,” Wilson told reporters Sunday. “I couldn’t let her win alone. I wanted to win, too.”
Kilgore came close to a title in the boys 14-15 division, winning the long drive at an eye-popping 275 yards, and finishing fourth in putting. But his chipping let him down, where he finished seventh.
The 80 finalists put on quite a show, but maybe nothing was as impressive as Ryan Nana Tanke. The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, resident won the driving competition in his division with a 241-yard blast. Ryan is 9 years old.
Autism awareness benefit
Arcis Golf and the Els for Autism Foundation have teamed up in April for World Autism Awareness Month. Throughout the month, patrons at Arcis Golf facilities can round up to the nearest dollar any purchases on pro shop merchandise, food, beverages and golf.
That money and any additional donations will be donated to the Els for Autism Foundation, the group founded by Hall of Famer Ernie Els and the father of an autistic child. Arcis has three courses in Southern Nevada — Desert Pines, Las Vegas GC and Painted Desert — where players can participate.
— After two events of the 2021 season, Las Vegas’ Gigi Stoll sits in 30th place on the Symetra Tour money list. The top 10 players at the end of the season earn 2022 playing cards on the LPGA Tour. The last time the tour played a complete season in 2019, Patty Tavatanakit finished second on the list to earn her LPGA playing privileges. She converted that opportunity into a major championship Sunday at the ANA Inspiration.
— Herk Herculean and Perry Seyler teamed up to win the Legacy Men’s Club’s Member-Member tournament last week. Steve Morling and Alan Tulleth finished second.
Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com .
What: The Masters
Where: Augusta, Georgia; Augusta National GC
When: Thursday-Friday, noon-4:30 p.m. (ESPN); Saturday, noon-4 p.m. (KLAS-8); Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (KLAS-8).
Prize money: TBA ($11.5 million in 2020). Winner’s share: TBA ($2.07 million in 2020).
Defending champion: Dustin Johnson.