Finals berth offers Nick Hughes chance to stand on 18th green at Augusta National
Nick Hughes had been to Augusta National on two occasions before the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals — once for a practice round and the other a tournament day. None of those experiences, however, compared to Sunday.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Hughes, whose son, Chase, competed in the Boys 7-9 division. “I’ve been to Augusta National before but I never got to stand where I stood today.”
Hughes, 8, of Oklahoma City, Okla., placed fourth overall in his age division. He finished third in both the driving and chipping events before struggling on No. 18 green.
Conner Ford, of Mount Vernon, Ky., placed first overall.
“Those putts were so fast,” Chase said. “When I was warming up on the putting green I didn't think it was too bad, but the real green was so fast.”
Throughout Sunday, the elder Hughes made a point to remind his son of what was taking place.
“I patted him on the back and said, ‘Hey, thanks for getting us this trip,’ ” said Nick, laughing. “To be able to walk onto No. 18 green is something I’ll never forget. I know he won’t either.”
Hughes has one more year in the 7-9 age group and hopes to qualify for the 2020 National Finals. Last year, Hughes placed third — and was the low American — at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst Golf Resort.
“I hope Chase continues to improve,” Nick said. “If he can get back (to Augusta National) next year, that would be incredible. That would mean a lot.”
When asked what his favorite part of Augusta National is, Chase simply said, “The grass. It’s the greenest grass I’ve ever seen.”