This kid has drive

Before you tune in to watch Phil, Tiger and Bubba play for the famous Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament next weekend, tune in this weekend to watch Michael.

Michael Quallich, 9, of Whitehall, is headed to Augusta, Ga. with his mom, Melissa, his dad, Justin, and his two sisters, to play in the Drive, Chip & Putt contest, a national junior golf development program started in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America, for kids 7 to 15. Michael had to qualify over three rounds and he is only one of 40 boys in the country (10 in his age group) to go to the contest. He earned the right after placing first in the regional finals at the famous Muirfield Village Golf Club. Watch him live Sunday morning at 8 a.m. on the Golf Channel.

Michael Quallich, 9, chips on the Mt. Lebanon Golf Course practice green before his trip to the Masters this week.

Michael, who first played when he was 2, never had a lesson, but he’s at home on Mt. Lebanon’s Public Golf Course, 1000 Pine Avenue, where he first golfed at a summer camp at age 6. Now, he and his parents are regulars. He trains with the Baldwin High School golf team and although he’s tried wrestling, baseball and hockey, it seems golf is the sport for him.

“It’s fun. It’s safe,” he says, noting driving is his favorite part of the game. Indeed, he whacked a handful of drives from hole No. 7 (for the Lebo golf uninitiated, it’s the big sledding hill). His drives were dead on, amazing sportscaster Guy Junker from WTAE-TV, who was there to film a segment on him.

Proudly, he says his best round of golf was his most recent—an 84 shot from the red tees at Butler.

Michael, golfing at age 2, wearing Thomas the Tank Engine bathing suit at Cool Springs. Now he’s going to the Masters.

He’s looking forward to seeing some of his favorite one named-players this weekend: Vijay, Dustin, Rickie and Jordan. But the big thing on his mind is, how soon after the flight lands will he be able to hit the driving range?

UPDATE: Michael finished in eighth place in his age group and is already getting ready for next year’s competition. thinks he could be the next John Daly.