Local teen gets a shot at golf’s Drive, Chip & Putt Championship

SAN DIEGO -- Carmel Valley resident Tyler Kowack has the chance to represent San Diego on golf's biggest stage in April.

As the pros compete in the Masters, this Neighborhood All-Star gets to play for his own title in another kind of competition.

The fifteen-year-old Kowack began golfing when he was just two-years-old and has stuck with the sport since. "I loved playing on the course with my friends and getting into games together," said Kowack. "Go out, play right after school and then come home and do my homework. It's just something I've kind of loved to do."

His passion for the game came to a culmination when he became a finalist in the Drive, Chip & Putt National Championship, a tournament featuring the top 80 players from across the nation.

"I worked really hard on my putting, chipping and driving," said Kowack. "Went out the day before, putted on the greens and went on the range with my dad, and it felt amazing with all the preparation I did beforehand to qualify."

Kowack attempted to qualify for the national tournament four previous times, but he never made the cut until September, when he won the regional qualifier at Torrey Pines and with it a trip to Augusta.

"When the last kid came in and I finally won, it was amazing because my parents were up helping my sister move into college and my grandma got to experience it. She doesn't really get to come out to my golf tournaments a lot," he told FOX 5.

A sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy, Kowack says chipping is his favorite part of the game, but admits that if he wants a chance at winning, his driving will matter most.

"You take nine shots. Three putts, three chips and three drives, and if I hit the three drives in, it gives me a little bit more confidence in my chipping and putting because if you miss a drive, it's very hard to come back," Kowack explained.

The tournament tees off live on the eve of the Masters, when golf's biggest names compete for a green jacket. While his young golf career continues to bloom, Kowack says he recognizes the big opportunity ahead.

"I'm just thinking about all the times Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have won there and thinking okay, I can be at that course and see Drive, Chip & Putt on TV everywhere. Seeing all those kids getting to shake the hands of famous people and (appearing) on live television is just amazing."

The Masters tees off April 11 in Augusta, Georgia.

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