Salley boy going for Drive, Chip and Putt title
Luke Parsons already owns two world golf championships.
The 9-year-old from Salley, S.C., plans to add the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club to his list of titles Sunday.
"I know the Drive, Chip and Putt competition is a great competition,'' said Luke, who will be competing in the Boys 7-9 age group. "I made it to Augusta National, and I'm going to Augusta National to win.''
Luke is one of 80 junior golfers from 30 states and a Canadian province to earn invitations to the fifth annual event, which will be televised on Golf Channel beginning at 8 a.m.
"It would surprise me if he doesn't win," said Rivers Johnson, the general manager at Sweetwater Country Club in Barnwell, S.C., which Luke lists as his home course and practices at regularly. "If he doesn't win, it won't be because he hasn't worked at it."
Luke won a regional qualifier for the National Finals at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., by 13 points in September.
"He's a special young man," Johnson said. "His drive for competition, he's really a phenom. His attention to detail is impeccable. His golf, he has all the shots. Basically, he's a 9-year-old professional."
Luke's biggest wins came in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst in 2015 in the Boys 6-and-under age group and the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego in 2017 in the Boys 7-8 age group.
He was honored by the South Carolina Legislature after winning in Pinehurst in 2015. State Rep. Bill Taylor introduced a resolution honoring Luke, and state Sen. Nikki Setzler saw it through the Senate. Signs commemorating his accomplishment were erected along state Highway 39 at the Salley town limits. A new sign reading "Luke Parsons 2017 IMG Junior Golf World Champion" was unveiled in November. Among the dignitaries on hand for the dedication were Taylor and Salley Mayor Bob Salley.
"I have a lot of fun in golf," Luke said. "I like hitting good shots and competing under pressure because I use the pressure as a chance to do something great.''
Luke, who was born in Los Gatos, Calif., is the son of Dr. Tim Parsons and Sueh-Han Parsons and has an older brother named Hunter, who is also a talented golfer.
Luke started playing golf at age 4 at Pebble Beach Golf Academy in California.
"When I first started, I knew that it was just right for me and I really had a blast,'' Luke said.
He had attempted to qualify for the national finals in the past and watched last year’s event on television.
"I'm very motivated," Luke said. "I saw other kids there and I wanted to be there, too."
One of his friends, Ella June Hannant, of Pikeville, N.C., will be competing in the Girls 7-9 age group at Augusta National.
When it comes to the Drive, Chip and Putt competition, Luke said his strongest skill is driving.
"My driver is my favorite (club) because I get up there and smoke it and get to use all my power," he said.
More on Luke
FAVORITE GOLFERS: Dustin Johnson, Lexi Thompson
DREAM FOURSOME: Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and older brother Hunter
FAVORITE MUSIC GROUP: Capital Cities
FAVORITE SUBJECT: Math
CAREER ASPIRATION: Wants to be a pro golfer or a heart surgeon when he grows up
More on the Finals
WHERE: Augusta National Golf Club
TIME: Golf Channel will show the finals from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
GATES: Open at 7 a.m. to ticketed patrons