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Golf's grandest stage gives way to golf's youngest generation

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – For one day golf’s grandest stage gave way to the game’s youngest generation.

Instead of Phil, Rory and Adam, Leo, Kelly and Treed made their own championship history on a golf course with no shortage of championship memories.

Leo Cheng (Boys 10-11), Kelly Xu (Girls 7-9) and Treed Huang (Boys 7-9) all won their respective divisions in the inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National.

The highlight of the eight champions may have been Patrick Welch, a 14-year-old from San Francisco, who charged in a 20 footer on the iconic 18th green (complete with the pin cut in its traditional Sunday location) to claim the Boys 14-15 Division.

“I’d seen that putt before,” Welch smiled.

Because of the volume of interest in the first-year event, officials announced on Sunday that next year’s championship will expand to 256 local qualifying sites with enough capacity for 50,000 participants, up from about 15,000 initial participants this year.

“It became clear to me a few months ago that they were going to bring the same emotion we saw in qualifying to the golf course,” said Augusta National chairman Billy Payne. “We are going to have a lot of kids who want to find their way to Augusta National.”

Lucy Li cruised to victory in the Girls 10-11 Division thanks to a 227-yard drive and also won the chipping portion of the competition.

“It’s been amazing, just being at the Masters,” Li said.

Natalie Pietromonaco and Bryson Bianco won the girls and boys 12-13 Division, respectively; and Hunter Pate joined Welch as the winner of the Girls 14-15 Division.