FINISHED 9 OF 10
The first Capital Area player to make it all the way to Augusta and the national finals of Drive, Chip & Putt was Nicole Criscone of Clifton Park. She had just turned 10 12-days earlier when she competed on Sunday, April 3.
Despite finishing ninth of 10 in the age group, one photo captured what the DCP is all about when two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson showed up in his Green Jacket to watch and surprised both her and her father Craig.
Click here for some other photos of her trip to Augusta National. She even met Justin Timberlake.
That Sunday morning, it was windy and chilly which played havoc with Nicole’s game plan. She got off to a cold start with her drives, finishing 10th; and chips, finishing 8th, but would finish second out of 10 in the putting, held on the 18th green.
Last year, Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, FL won with 26 points (first in drive, second in chip and fourth in putting) in the girls ages 10-11. Criscone had one point in driving (one was out of bounds and the other 114 yards into a stiff wind), three points in chipping (26’ 8”) and nine points in putting. Her two putts finished a total of 5’ 5” from the hole. The only one to beat her on the green was Mia Raines of Galena, OH, who made the 30-footer. She was second in the group with 19 points. Criscone had a total of 13.
But it beat the year before, when Criscone finished just four points out of qualifying in the Regionals. She set a goal for the summer of 2015 and reached it.
Criscone and her parents, Craig and Tammy, stayed for the Monday practice round and flew back to the Capital Area on Tuesday evening. All the contestants and their families receive Masters passes for Monday’s practice round.
A total of 80 youngsters advance through local, state and regional qualifiers to earn an invitation to the site of the Masters.