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Connecticut kids compete at Travelers for their chance to make it to the national championship

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CROMWELL--The Travelers Championship is in full swing in Cromwell this week, but it's not just the pros on the PGA Tour who are hitting the links.

On Tuesday, the first balls were hit as kids came out in full force for the Drive, Chip and Putt competition.

The nationwide golfing event, launched in 2013 as a joint partnership between the United States Golf Association, Masters Tournament, and Professional Golfers Association of America, is a skills competition for boys and girls aged seven to 15.

The competitors spent Tuesday competing in the local qualifier, working to advance to the sub-regionals, which will be held in Cromwell at the TPC River Highlands, which is followed by the regional qualifier at the country club in Brookline, Massachusetts. It's all part of an effort for the kids to compete at the Augusta National Championship on April 2, 2017, but first the kids have to pass these three rounds!

The kids playing on Tuesday said that seeing their role model play in the same play they are is a huge boost.

"It's nice to see my role models, to see where I want to be when I get older," said Justin Matthew, 14, of Rocky Hill.

Fellow teen golfer Preston Hazard agreed. The 14-year-old from Harwinton said, "I think being amongst the pros in my home state, being in such a big event, it rocks Connecticut. It's pretty cool to have something this big come to Connecticut."

Connecticut has a good track record, already having sent a boy and a girl to the Masters event, and hope to send at least one to Georgia next spring.

So what's in store for competitors who go all the way? "You get to go to Augusta National, it's a full weekend deal," said Joe Mentz, from PGA Connecticut. He added that those select few will also be "putting with Jordan Speith and Bubba Watson."

This year's Travelers tournament is raising money for ALS; 100 percent of funds raised will go to the ALS Clinic at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.

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