AUGUSTA, Ga. – The green jacket will be awarded to this year’s winner of the Masters Tournament this weekend, but on the eve of the first practice round, several pro golfers were watching a 12-year-old from Cheboygan beat the best kids in the country.
Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz's nephew, P.J. Maybank, came to Augusta with a dream. He took his shots on the historic Augusta National Golf Course, where the greatest players in the world have played. P.J. walked away a champion with a huge trophy and a memory of a lifetime.
"It felt pretty good to see my name up on the leader board," P.J. said. "Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and Gary P. and all of them have been up there. That was pretty cool."
It's not a Masters championship, it is a national championship in the Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship competition and P.J. is the first golfer ever from the state of Michigan to win the title. P.J. made it to the finals in 2015 and came in sixth place, but this time his goal was to win. Starting with the drive competition, P.J. was in second place after driving the ball 237.7 yards. After that was the chip competition.
"My first chip was a little short," P.J. said. "It was about 9 feet short. Then my second chip was good. It was like 3 1/2 feet away."
At this point, P.J. was now 4 points off the lead and he needed two clutch putts to win. When his coach told him he needed to make sure he "snuggle up next to the hole," P.J. did just that and won the competition. He was congratulated by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was handed his trophy by a former Master's winner, Mark O'Meara, before being interviewed live on the Golf Channel.
"Just practice all you can, because that's how you get better," P.J. told a national audience.
The reporter discovered P.J. was wearing two different shoes with Jack Nicklaus socks. The different shoes are a fashion statement, while the socks are a tribute to one of the greatest golfers of all time. Returning the favor, Nicklaus posted a photo of P.J. Maybank's socks on his official Instagram account, congratulating P.J. on winning the competition.
P.J. has been working hard for years and his family, who has sacrificed for him to chase his dreams, is proud of the success he's found. They don't consider themselves to be pushing their son as much as they see themselves being pulled by P.J.'s desire to be the best.
"He was walking at 9 months," Nicole Maybank said. "He was swinging a golf club at 9 months and one day."
His trophy is going to be at the center of the trophy cabinet at his family's home, but those who know golf don't expect it to be his last. Remember the name P.J. Maybank, because you will likely be hearing it a lot in the future.