Junior golfers compete for a spot at finals

Junior golfers compete for a spot at finals

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - Saturday morning, 120 youngsters ages 6 to 15 years old from throughout Mississippi and Louisiana participated in the Drive, Chip and Putt local qualifier in Diamondhead.

The ultimate goal: make their way to Augusta for the national finals.

Under extremely hot conditions, the junior golfers displayed their talents in three categories: drive, chip and putt.

Gulf States PGA Player and Tournament Director Patrick Murphy says the event is one of four local qualifiers in Mississippi and Louisiana.

"We're trying to find three qualifiers from each age group. They will travel to TPC Louisiana on August 9 for the sub-regional qualifier," said Murphy. 

At least 28,000 junior golfers from across the country compete in the events, regional winners will advance.

"They'll head to TPC Sawgrass where they have the Players Championship," added Murphy. "That will be in September and the top kid from each age group will go to Augusta National in April."

Ten-year-old Morgan Guepet of Metairie, whose mom is from Biloxi, took the next step in trying to earn a spot to Augusta. She made it last year and did extremely well.

"I got second, but I was the youngest one in my age group. So, I figure I did really good for my age," said Morgan, who earned enough points to advance to the sub-regional.

Stephen Guepet is proud of what his daughter has accomplished, which isn't bad for someone who started playing golf just three years ago. 

"She won three qualifying events to get there and even as the youngest participate in her age, she managed to finish second overall," noted Stephen. 

Hunter McDermott of Harvey, Louisiana is determined to qualify for Augusta.

"Last year I qualified in the first one. The second one I came up short by a few points because of my chipping," said Hunter. "I didn't have as much points that I really thought I would, and I came up short.

McDermott has been playing for five years and Hunter is on his way to the sub-regional in Louisiana. Hunter was one of three to qualify in the 10 and 11 year old age group.

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