By Tom Spousta
A voice announcing the Drive, Chip and Putt participants carried across the Tournament Practice Facility and caught the attention of several players, who even while preparing for the Masters glanced at the competition playing out before them.
To his right, Billy Horschel marveled when Julia Gregg in the Girls 14-15 division blasted a drive that was announced at 215 yards.
“And it was into the wind,” he said. “That’s quite a poke for anybody this morning.”
To his left, Horschel glanced toward the chipping area and saw a couple of 12-13 year old girls nearly hole their shots.
As Horschel finished his practice session, the line of 12-13 year old boys passed before him. He stopped and clapped and high-fived a few, wishing them all good luck as they headed to hit their drives.
“It’s cool. I wish I had an opportunity as a kid to be in a competition like this,” Horschel said.
Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods, who will not play this year because of injury, weighed in, too, from his Twitter account: “I don't watch a lot of golf on tv, but my kids and me are glued to @drivechipputt. Amazing to see them so focused and having so much fun. It’s what golf and family are all about.”
Horschel agreed that DCP is something special.
“We have a big competition coming up this week, too, but this brings us back to why we play the game,” Horschel said. “They get no money from it, just the good competition and fun and chance to be at a place like this.”
“It’s so neat to see them out here and having a chance to be at Augusta National.” - Jason Day
The pros were the interested onlookers Sunday, fans of these 80 young amateurs in various age groups who reached the DCP finals and will continue their trip to Augusta National as guest patrons on Monday.
“It’s so neat to see them out here and having a chance to be at Augusta National,” said Jason Day, the world’s No. 1-ranked player. “It’s an experience that they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”
Horschel is playing his third Masters, “and I try to make sure I come out and practice and watch some of the kids,” he said.
Eight Masters champions with a combined 15 titles donned their Green Jackets to present trophies to the winners and pose for photos: Nick Faldo, Mark O’Meara, Gary Player, Trevor Immelman, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson.
“The coolest thing is you have to do a qualifying to even get here, and then compete with the champions from all around the country,” said Faldo, who handed out trophies to the Girls 14-15 division. “It’s pretty special. It takes a lot of effort to get to Augusta National.
“It’s a great motivator. It gets them going. You want your kids to have something to get their teeth into, and competing for a chance at coming to Augusta National on a Sunday, that’s pretty darn good.”