ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) – Before Round Rock’s Ava Frazier takes a swing, she steps back and takes a few deep breaths.
Like any serious golfer, it’s all about the process. The process will lead to results as Frazier’s dad always tells her.
“Me and my dad believe that the better your process, setup and swing is…the better that you’ll hit it,” Frazier said Wednesday.
For this 10-year-old, already with dreams of playing golf professionally, the process led her all the way to Augusta National Golf Club for the 2021 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals.
The Drive, Chip & Putt competition is a fairly new endeavor for youth golf, but it’s already a prestigious opportunity. Created in partnership with the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and the PGA of America, golfers from seven to 15-years-old compete in four age groups in the three facets of the game for the right to call themselves No. 1 for the year.
Think of it like golf’s version of the punt, pass and kick competition put on by the US National Football League.
The event started in 2014 and ramped up interest quickly with thousands of kids competing across the world. This year’s event had qualifiers from 30 US states, two Canadian provinces and France.
Reaching the national finals, earns you and your family a trip to Augusta National Golf Club’s hallowed grounds to compete against the best just seven days before the Masters Tournament awards its Green Jacket.
Just getting to the finals to see the green of Augusta is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Though, it’s felt like a lifetime since Frazier qualified for her trip to Georgia.
Frazier’s journey to the national finals
Frazier started her path to the finals nearly 22 months ago, advancing through a local qualifier at Whistling Straits in June 2019 and a sub-regional qualifier at Wisconsin’s Sentry World in August 2019.
In September 2019, Frazier went to Minneapolis’ Interlachen Country Club for the regional qualifier.
Frazier started the overall competition against hundreds of seven to 9-year-old girls. At the regional qualifier, she finished No. 1, becoming just one of 10 girls in her age group set to compete in Augusta on Sunday.
“I had no idea that I was going to win. I was really surprised because there were lots of other people that were just as good as me or better than me,” Frazier said.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event set for April 2020.
As the entire sports world shut down due to the pandemic, Frazier wondered if she’d lost her chance to play at Augusta.
The 2020 Masters tournament was delayed until November. The organizers for Drive, Chip & Putt didn’t overthink the situation, opting not to hold 2020 competitions and invite the 2019 finalists for the 2021 event.
“I was really disappointed [at first]. I thought they were just going to cancel the whole thing, but no. I’m glad they didn’t,” Frazier said. “It took me several months to get here. It’s been hard, but it’s been fun.”
Frazier says putting is her favorite part of golf, but, based on the videos in this story, she can do it all on the course.
Nervousness will be a natural feeling Sunday when Frazier prepares to compete against the best of her age group. She says, as long as she follows the process, she’ll be happy with doing her best.
How to watch
The 2021 Drive, Chip & Putt will be aired live from Augusta National Golf Club on Golf Channel Sunday at 7 a.m.
You can find more information on the 2022 event on the Drive, Chip & Putt website.
Texans competing in the Drive, Chip & Putt
There are eight Texans representing the state in this year’s Drive, Chip & Putt national finals.
|Ava Frazier||Round Rock||7-9|
|Finn Burkholder||The Woodlands||12-13|