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New Champions Fulfill Their Dreams

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Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament Fred Ridley (C), USGA President Stu Francis (L) and PGA of America President Jim Richerson (R) poses with champions (L-R) Mia Hammond, Jenna Kim, Kylie Chung, Autumn Solesbee, Hudson Knapp, Bentley Coon, Michael Jorski and Jaden Dumdumaya after the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.

The young winners of the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals channeled the pressure of competition to rise to the occasion.

Over the years, golfers have tried all kind of ways to handle the pressure of competition, in which strength of mind is as important as soundness of technique.

Three-time Masters Champion Jimmy Demaret had one of the best descriptions of the game’s mental challenge, saying it was fine to have butterflies as long as they were flying in formation.

The young people participating in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on a sunny, warm Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club had their own ways of dealing with the moment as eight division champions emerged from a field of 40 boys and 40 girls.

2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Michael Jorski of the Boys 12-13 celebrates on the No. 18 green during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
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2022 National Finals
Jaden Dumdumaya of the Boys 14-15 division drives during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals
2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Mia Hammond of the Girls 14-15 division lines up her chip during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
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“I can deal with pressure well and rise to the occasion,” said Michael Jorski of Clarendon Hills, Ill., after a clutch putting performance got him into a playoff and subsequent victory over Jacob Thompson in the Boys 12-13 division. “I knew I needed something good. It’s impossible to take the nerves away. It proves I can play when I’m nervous.”

That he did, sinking a 30-footer putt and then nestling a 15-footer to within a foot of the hole to tie Thompson with 21 points.

The conclusion of the Girls 14-15, the last division to conclude early Sunday afternoon, came down to a dramatic putting showdown on the 18th green. After Ella Walsh of Tucson, Ariz., drained both of her putts – a rare achievement over eight years of competitions – to charge up the leader board, Mia Hammond of New Albany, Ohio, matched her feat. With two competitors having holed both of their attempts, they went to a playoff to determine the putting winner. Hammond won the one-putt playoff and with it the division.

“I could really see the break and kind of trusted my gut,” Hammond said of sinking her second putt to match Walsh. “I never thought I could actually be here. To be a champion here is so much more.”

I never thought I could actually be here. To be a champion here is so much more.
Mia Hammond

Autumn Solesbee captured the Girls 7-9 division keeping in mind a thought from her father, Donnie. “He always says being nervous is a superpower because it shows you care,” said Solesbee of Huntersville, N.C., who was congratulated by her favorite golfer, two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson. “He was so proud of me, and I was proud of myself.”

That emotion summed up how Jaden Dumdumaya of Fairfield, Calif., felt after a record-setting performance in the Boys 14-15 division, his 10-point margin the largest in Drive, Chip and Putt history.

“It still feels like a dream,” said Dumdumaya, who noted he practiced four to eight hours a day as the National Finals approached. “I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It means a lot to me because I’ve been working at this for a good six or seven years. To win after trying for that long is something I’m very proud of.”

Other age-group winners included: Kylie Chung of Cumming, Ga., in the Girls 10-11 division; Jenna Kim, Raleigh, N.C., Girls 12-13; Hudson Knapp, Marietta, Ga., Boys 7-9; and Bentley Coon, Horton, Mich., Boys 10-11.

“I just loved everybody cheering,” said Chung of the patron support. “It made me smile.”

2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Autumn Solesbee of the Girls 7-9 division smiles after chipping during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Bentley Coon of the Boys 10-11 division chips during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
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Conducted in partnership between the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America and the USGA, the Drive, Chip and Putt is a nationwide youth development program open to boys and girls age 7 to 15. Local qualifying began last May at 326 sites throughout all 50 states. The top three scorers in the local qualifiers advanced to subregional qualifiers, with the two top participants in each moving on to regional competition for berths in the National Finals at the home of the Masters.

“Augusta National is a really special place to win,” said Kim.

Dumdumaya imagined even bigger things as he faced his second putt on the 18th green en route to winning his division, a 15-footer that he sank. “I told myself the putt at the end was to win the Masters,” he said.

If that time ever comes, he plans to serve steak and lobster at the Champions Dinner.

It was a day of dreams both hatched and realized.

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