2016 Drive, Chip & Putt press conference transcript

ROB JOHNSTON:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you so much for joining us here today at Augusta National and I think all would agree that today, indeed, has been a joyous one here at Augusta National.

My name is Rob Johnston.  It is my pleasure to welcome to the stage the winners of the 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt Championship National Finals, and to show these wonderful young champions how much we appreciate them, let's give them a great round of applause (applause).

We'll open the floor up to some questions but before we do, let's introduce these young protégé.

In the Girls 7 to 9 Division, Emerson Blair of West Point, Mississippi.

In the Boys 7 to 9 Division, Stephen Robert Hernandez of Houston, Texas.

In the Girls 10 to 11 Division, Alexa Pano from Lake Worth, Florida.

In the Boys 10 to 11 Division, Christian Kim from Vernon Hills, Illinois.

In the Girls 12 to 13 Division, Kayla Sam from Anaheim Hills, California.

In the Boys 12 to 13 Division, Ty Briggs from Manteca, California.

In the Girls 14 to 15 Division, Alyssa Montgomery from Knoxville, Tennessee.

In the Boys 14 to 15 Division, Michael Thorbjornsen from Wellesley, Massachusetts.

It's now my pleasure to open up the floor to ask these young champions a few questions.

Q.  Like to ask Michael, your competition, I haven't seen the final numbers yet but it was very, very close.  I'm wondering how aware were you of how close it was and how intense was it there at the end, knowing you had to do what you had to do?

MICHAEL THORBJORNSEN:  Well, I putted ninth out of tenth, so my first putt didn't go too well, and then my second putt did.  So I didn't have that great of a number.

So my opponent needed a decent number to beat mine, so his first putt went really well.  Then his second putt, it was kind of close and it was pretty unsure whether I was going to win or not.

Q.  How aware were you of exactly what you had to do there at the end?

MICHAEL THORBJORNSEN:  Well, I knew I was tied for the lead, and I needed to put a pretty good number on.  But after the first putt, it was kind of tough.

Q.  For Alyssa, you made the putt from 30 feet on 18 after Skylar had kind of made a run at you.  Talk about your mind set going into that putt, making it, and then the next one where you only had to get it within three feet, four inches and you had to plead it to stop a little bit.

ALYSSA MONTGOMERY:  Yeah, I knew that I would have to get it in close, so I was not trying to make any of my putts, because I knew if I tried to make them, I would probably kill them way by.  So I was just trying to cradle them up there nice and close and the first one just happened to go in, and then the second one got close enough for the win.

Q.  What is the coolest thing that's happened to you this weekend?

KAYLA SAM:  Meeting all of these amazing golfers and celebrities, I guess, and winning the Drive, Chip and Putt, it was really shocking and unexpected.

Q.  Who is the most interesting person that you've met?

KAYLA SAM:  I don't know.  I met a lot of good people.  (Laughter).

Q.  Just as a follow for Ty, I'm curious how long you've been watching the Masters?

TY BRIGGS:  Ever since I started.  I was about eight years old.

Q.  How did you think you would ever get to Augusta National on the grounds when you first started watching it when you were eight?

TY BRIGGS:  Well, I thought that I would never be there, because it's really one of those magical places that you've always seen on TV but you never end up, and here I am.

Q.  So I would imagine that    and this question is for any and all of you.  I would imagine that you all have professional golfers that you look up to and perhaps thoughts of one day being a professional yourselves.  But I guess there's an intermediate step which would be amateur golf, and I'm wondering if any of you have amateur golfers that you look up to or plans in the near future, thoughts about what you might do in amateur golf?

TY BRIGGS:  Yeah, I have a couple of friends at the golf course that I go to and she's going to Northwestern.  Her name is Brooke Riley, so I always like playing with her and that's fun.

Q.  Anybody else?

MICHAEL THORBJORNSEN:  I had a friend, Megan Khang.  She just turned pro and is on the LPGA Tour.  I used to practice with her a lot and that was also really fun.

ALYSSA MONTGOMERY:  I'm really good friends with Peter Malnati.  He would come out to my home course at Holston Hills Country Club and practice.

ALEXA PANO:  I'm good friend with Chase Koepka who is now in college.

Q.  Tyler, knowing that you're a big Bubba Watson fan, how did it feel to shake his hand today?

TY BRIGGS:  Amazing, especially since we won.  It makes it that much better just for me, my favorite golfer.

Q.  A show of hands, how many of you all sort of aspire to one day play maybe professional golf and play in major championships?  (All the young champions raise their hands).

Is this the kind of thing that sort of gets you, especially for the young ones, is this the kind of thing that got you sort of excited about going on that path and sort of motivated you to do that?

STEPHEN ROBERT HERNANDEZ:  Yes, me especially, because I play golf a lot, and I didn't know that I had a chance to go to the Masters young.  11 my age.

Q.  You said you're really happy, you said you're the first Mexican to win the competition here.  How does that feel?

STEPHEN ROBERT HERNANDEZ:  Great, because all of the Hernandezes that I know, some play soccer, some play football and a couple play golf.  So I'm just here, Hernandez, and feel great (laughter).

Q.  Can you just go around, all eight of you, the one thing that you will not forget what happened in the last few days?

TY BRIGGS:  Making that putt on the last hole.  I won't forget that.

STEPHEN ROBERT HERNANDEZ:  My chipping today was on.  I knocked it around well, my total score was 8.6.

ALEXA PANO:  For me, it was all the people that I've met and getting my drives in bounds today (laughing).
ROB JOHNSTON:  Well, once again let me give the Augusta National congratulations to all the champions, to the parents of the champions and to all the young participants in the field.  We hope it's been a wonderful day for y'all and thank you all so much for attending and your support of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship.  Thank you all so much.

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