Two Southland kids win titles at Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals

Kelly Xu of Santa Monica and Leo Cheng of Northridge won their age-group competitions at the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

Cheng won the boys' 10-11 division title and Xu captured the girls' 7-9 division championship in the event sponsored by the Masters tournament, PGA of America and the USGA.

Xu, 9, was the first champion to be crowned Sunday.

“I will definitely remember this experience,” Xu said. “To me, it's the most special course in the world. I feel like all my hard work has really paid off, and it feels really good.”

Cheng, 11, received his winner's trophy from defending Masters champion Adam Scott after clinching his victory with a 20-foot putt on the 18th green at Augusta.

"I just had a vision of Adam Scott making that putt,” Cheng said.

The three-part competition for youth 7 to 15 is based on accumulating points for driving distance as well as chipping and putting accuracy. Competitors advanced from a local qualifying event to sub-regional and regional competitions. There were 88 competitors in four age groups for boys and girls at Augusta on Sunday.

Organizers are planning to expand the competition to all 50 states next year with more than 250 local qualifying events. There were 11 regional competitions this year, with the top two in each division advancing to the national competition. Officials said more than 50,000 kids are expected to compete next year.

“Can you imagine being 10 years old and to come here and putt on these greens?” said Fred Couples, a former Masters champion. “For us as players, it's pretty neat to see them out here.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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