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Junior Golfers Crowned Drive Chip and Putt National Champions

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CELEBRATION, Fla. -- Junior golfer Sahith Theegala, 8, (Chino Hills, Calif.), along with Joe Philaphet, 10, (Riverdale, Ga.), Nate Smith, 12, (Benton, Ark.) and Chris Morgan, 14, (Portland, Ore.) battled through the heat at Celebration Golf Club near Orlando to claim the national championship in their respective age divisions at todays Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip and Putt National Championships presented by The Golf Chanel.
 
The national championships featured 104 junior golfers from throughout North America, including 32 states and Canada. The participants were divided into four age groups (7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14) that competed in three skills events ' driving, chipping and putting ' with the best combined score in each age group crowned 2006 national champions.
 
Theegala, who captured the 2006 Callaway Junior World Champion earlier this year, competed in his second consecutive Drive, Chip and Putt National Championships, where he finished fourth in 2005. Philaphet, the 2006 U.S. Kids Golf Player of the Year, qualified for the national championships for the first time in 2006. Smith is an active member of the Arkansas State Junior Golf Association and qualified for the national championships for the first time in 2006 after four previous attempts. Morgan also qualified for the national championships for the first time in 2006 after advancing to the regional championships the past two years.
 
Alessandra Kutz, 11, of Lake Mary, Fla., attempted to become the first junior golfer to record back-to-back national championships. The defending national champion in the 9-10 age division, Kutz battled to a third place finish at todays event, including the only participant in the field to hole-out at her chip in the chipping competition. Kutz qualified for the national championships via winning the 11-12 age division at Thursdays second chance qualifier at Celebration Golf Club.
 
All participants qualified to compete in the national championships via finishing in the top-three in their respective age groups at one of 100 local championships and by taking first-place at one of 25 regional championships in the summer months.
 
An hour-long national championships highlight show is scheduled to air on Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day) at 12:30 p.m. ET, on The Golf Channel.
 
National Championships weekend kicked-off with the Robert Gamez Foundation Nine Hole Invitational and the Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip & Putt Second Chance Competition on Thursday, Oct. 19.
 
The worlds largest junior golf program of its kind, Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip & Putt provides a free, fun and friendly opportunity for junior golfers to compete, develop and test their golf skills. With the help of Delta Apparel, Rixstine Recognition, Ping and Service by Air, The Golf Channel has introduced the game of golf to nearly 100,000 junior golfers since the tournaments inception in 1999. For complete information on the Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip and Putt National Championships, please visit www.thegolfchannel.com.