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Posted April 07, 2019 04:04 pm
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Gabriella Moorehead's coach predicts youth will return to Drive, Chip and Putt finals

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    Gabriella Moorehead makes one of her chip attempts in the Girls 7-9 age group during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Masters Champion Bubba Watson speaks with Gabriella Moorehead in the Girls 7-9 age group during the chipping portion of the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

  • Article Photos
    Photos description

    Masters Champion Bubba Watson speaks with Gabriella Moorehead in the Girls 7-9 age group during the chipping portion of the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Gabriella Moorehead might not have won the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on Sunday at Augusta National, but getting to the finals was already a win in her coach’s eyes.

Moorehead, 9, has only been playing golf for five years and working with her coach, Ted Bonham, for two years. The progress he’s seen in just those two years leaves him not only optimistic leaving Augusta, but optimistic about her future.

See photos from Sunday Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals

“We were kind of winners before we even got here because you get to this stage with people competing all over the country is just a feat in itself,” said Bonham, a golf instructor at Precision Golf School in Greensboro, N.C. “But being here for the first time and being able to compete at this level, doing the things that we did and only having worked with her for only two years, she’s done an incredible job.”

Since he’s been working with Gabriella, he’s been impressed with her willingness to want to learn. Bonham said one of her strongest traits as a student of the game is she is not just a quick learner, but she listens, which can be a difficult task for a junior golfer at times.

Bonham added that what makes her stand out is how she wasn’t quick to start hacking away like most 9-year-olds. One of the first things she wanted to learn was putting, what he referred to as the “boring part” of the sport for younger players starting to learn the game.

“She sees it as a lot of fun and it was kind of different (Sunday) that her worst event was putting when that (is usually) her strong suit,” Bonham said.

Gabriella, a Burlington native, finished with 12 points in Sunday’s Drive, Chip and Putt finals. Bonham said Sunday was interesting to watch because she normally struggles with driving and that was her best category. Putting is normally her strongest game and she struggled with that. A lot of that being unfamiliar with how fast the green was playing, but it wasn’t an excuse.

She had a nice supporting crew with her aside from the spectators that came out to watch the event. Along with her coach, she had various family members including her dad. He was elated to see his daughter compete at the home of the Masters.

“It’s just awesome. She’s put in a lot of work for it. It’s exciting,” her dad, Matt Moorehead, said. “It’s Augusta, right?”

Matt added that he hopes Gabriella’s first time at Augusta National is a springboard and motivates her throughout the rest of her golf career. He hopes to see his daughter back here at next year’s event, but didn’t make any definitive predictions. Her coach felt differently.

“I can probably answer the question: That she will come back, she will. She loves competition,” Bonham said.