By Ben Stroup
Have you ever seen a fourth grader golf?
If you haven’t had the pleasure, let’s just say it can be an adventure. Heck, watching an adult maneuver the golf ball around the course can, and usually is, an adventure.
But Johnnycake Corners Elementary student Mia Raines, 10, isn’t your typical fourth grader. She isn’t your typical golfer, either, capturing runner-up honors in her age group at the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. — the same Augusta that’s hosting a little something called the Masters right now.
Raines, who was a regional runner-up last year, won the putting portion at this year’s finals to punctuate her second-place performance.
“I was really happy with how I did,” Raines said. “Getting my first drive in bounds made me just the tiniest bit more relaxed, but then I struggled a lot with chipping, which is usually my strongest skill. I rushed and should have used my gap wedge instead of my sand wedge since I needed to get more roll on the green.”
While the sand wedge wasn’t quite cooperating, Raines came through big time with the putter.
“After chipping, my dad and I talked about how I still had a chance to get in the top three if I won the putting.”
Raines did just that. She was next to automatic on the greens … even from 30 feet out.
“Making a 30-foot putt on the 18th green at Augusta National while the crowd cheered is a moment I will never forget,” she said. “Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley and Condoleezza Rice were all standing at the 18th green when I made the putt.”
While the day was all about her, and the 80 other qualifiers who competed, Raines couldn’t help but notice she was surrounded by some serious star power.
“Having (2013 Masters champion) Adam Scott hand me my trophies was pretty awesome,” she said. “It was pretty mind-blowing to get to play on the same course that so many of the greats have played on.”
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @aimmedianetwork.com