13-year-old Sean Haselton is one of five USGA Members who will compete in the national finals of the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday, April 6. Read his story here, and then click below to read about Lucy Li and Edward Stephens Jr., fellow Members who will also be competing. Live coverage of Drive, Chip and Putt begins at 8 a.m. Eastern Time on Golf Channel, and can also be viewed at www.DriveChipandPutt.com.
Five years ago, Sean Haselton ditched ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer for golf. It was the game everyone in his family played, and the one activity he gravitated toward more than any other.
His parents, Eileen and Dan, enjoy playing. Older sister Shannon will be teeing it up this fall for Division I Hofstra University. His 15-year-old brother, Brendan, has been one of Sayville High’s best golfers, and even younger brother Brian, 8, has been bitten by the golf bug.
But it’s Sean who arguably boasts the biggest achievement in the family. Last summer, the 13-year-old from Sayville, N.Y., won a regional qualifier at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, N.Y., to reach the finals of the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, which will be held at Augusta National Golf Club on the eve of the 2014 Masters Tournament.
Haselton, an eighth-grader, scored 146 points to defeat fellow Long Islander Kyle Zere by 11 points and win the Boys 12-13 division and earn a trip to Augusta, Ga.
Drive, Chip and Putt, a competition for girls and boys ages 7-15, is being conducted by the USGA, Augusta National and The PGA of America. Haselton is one of five USGA Members who qualified from 11 regional sites throughout the country. The champions of each age division – four each for boys and girls – advanced to the finals.
“It’s really exciting and I’m just really looking forward to going,” said Haselton, who hopes to earn a college golf scholarship and play on the PGA Tour. “I always see [the Masters] on TV and it looks like a really, really nice course.”
Haselton, who won his local qualifier at Bethpage State Park, had no delusions of grandeur when he arrived for the regional finals. But he got off to a strong start with a drive that measured between 230 and 240 yards. He then sealed the title by holing a challenging left-to-right 15-foot putt.
“I didn’t think I was going to win even while I was doing it,” he said. “It’s just good that I won.”
In the five years since he took up the game, Haselton, who carries an 8 handicap at the public West Sayville Golf Course, has already won a couple of Metropolitan PGA Section junior events, and he played on the Sayville High varsity golf team as a seventh-grader. This spring, he expects to be the team’s No. 3 or 4 player. His best 18-hole score is a 74.
While the winter weather on Long Island hasn’t been conducive for golf, Haselton has kept his game sharp at the Heartland Golf Park in Edgewood, N.Y., which has heated stalls on its practice range. The facility also features an indoor putting green, so Haselton can hone his short game.
“We go on the weekends at night when it isn’t too crowded,” said Haselton.
All 88 DCP finalists are invited to attend the Masters practice round on Monday, April 6, at Augusta National, where they’ll be able to walk the course and observe the world’s best players prepare for the year’s first major championship. Haselton, who went to the 2012 Barclays at Bethpage Black, can’t wait to see the course and his favorite player, 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland.
“He’s always been my favorite player,” he said. “I like how he plays. Hopefully I’ll get to meet him.”
Haselton would love to hole the winning putt on Augusta’s famous 18th green. The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship will conclude on that green, where so many Masters Tournaments have been decided, from Mark O’Meara in 1998 to Phil Mickelson’s first major title in 2004 to Tiger Woods’ dramatic playoff win over Chris DiMarco in 2005.
“That would be awesome,” he said.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.