Sun Valley golfer Hailey Pendleton, 17, of Waxhaw is one of 78 teens from First Tee chapters from across the country selected last week for the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee.
At the event, Pendleton will be paired with a PGA Tour Champions player and two amateurs. Notable past professionals have included World Golf Hall of Famers Tom Kite and Bernhard Langer and notable amateurs such as Condoleezza Rice and Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and is the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
The tournament will be held Sept. 24 to 29, and will air on Golf Channel.
The PURE Insurance Championship is the only event of its kind in which 78 junior golfers are teamed with 78 PGA Tour Champions players and 156 amateurs during an official PGA Tour Champions tournament.
The teens were selected by a national panel of judges based on their understanding and application of the values and life skills learned through First Tee’s programs, as well as their playing ability.
Of the 78 juniors playing this year, 41% are girls (32 juniors) and 50% are minorities (39 juniors).
In addition, 27 states from 52 First Tee chapters are represented in this year’s junior field as the event continues to benefit a wide range of teenagers across the U.S.
The full junior field was revealed live on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” including a video of World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus surprising Stephen Ma from First Tee of Central Ohio. Other surprises by PGA TOUR players and Golf Channel hosts had been recorded over the last month and aired part of the PURE Insurance Championship announcement.
This year’s field of professionals will include World Golf Hall of Fame members Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, as well as defending champion and recent KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship winner Ken Tanigawa.
Clint Eastwood serves as chairman of the PURE Insurance Championship.
Play will be conducted on Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course on Friday and Saturday, with the final round contested solely at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday, where 23 First Tee juniors will compete based on their 36-hole performance. The tournament will crown one male and one female First Tee Junior Champion on Sunday.
First Tee is a youth development organization dedicated to helping young people build character through the game of golf. The PURE Insurance Championship is one of 10 national opportunities provided by First Tee headquarters to encourage and motivate kids as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities.
“Congratulations to the 78 participants who have been selected to play and represent First Tee on a national stage,” First Tee President Greg McLaughlin said in a release announcing the selections. “Their hard work and commitment to academic, social and emotional development through our programs has secured this opportunity.”
In her own words: Hailey Pendleton
Q: What have you learned from First Tee?
A: I’ve become a much better thinker and more experienced golfer. I’ve learned that in order to resolve conflict, I need to communicate, listen, review my options and compromise.
Q: What are your goals?
A: One of my main goals is to play college golf. I also hope to pursue a career as a pharmacist.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of golf?
A: I enjoy participating in other sports and fundraising projects. I love showing school spirit with my friends and spending time with my family, especially my older sister. Together, we enjoy shopping, going to concerts, and volunteering for the Special Olympics organization.
Q: At what age did you start playing, and who got you started?
A: I began playing golf when I was eight years old. Though my dad lives for golf and my nom has never played a day in her life, she is the one who first signed me up for a golf camp.
Q: What is your most significant golf achievement?
A: I was offered my first college scholarship to play for Anderson University, which showed me that hard work truly pays off.
Q: Who is your First Tee mentor?
A: Before I started lessons with Ian Bollinger at my First Tee chapter, my Dad and I had a tough time balancing our relationship and golf. My Dad had high expectations and the game became less fun. This past year learning from Coach Ian has not only helped my golf swing tremendously, but has also helped with my mental game. He has instilled confidence in my game and made me believe I can achieve anything that I put my mind to.
Q: What’s a fun fact about you?
A: When my Mom was five years old, she moved to America with her family from the Philippines. I constantly look up to her for being able to adapt to a new environment at such a young age. Another fun fact about me is that I don’t know how to ride a bike.