MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tiger Woods wasn’t the only golfer with a big week at Augusta National this past week.
A slightly less well-known story was that of Scandia Elementary sixth grader Bella Leonhart. She had the experience of a lifetime – and she’s not planning on it being the last one.
“It was super, like, cool when you drove up Magnolia Lane,” Leonhart said. “The course is so nice and all the grass is so green [laughs]!”
They say there’s no experience like seeing Augusta for the first time. And Leonhart, 11, can certainly attest to that. But she can even do you one better. The envy of every golf fan in America, she actually got to play it.
“When I was, like, up on the tee box, hitting my drives, I was like, ‘This is really cool,’ because … there’s a big lot of people, and it was like me, just me hitting [laughs]!”
Just days before Woods was wowing crowds at the Masters, Leonhart was there competing in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. To get there, she had to place top-three in a local qualifier, then top-two in a sub-regional to get to a regional, then win the regional to get to go to Augusta.
“At Augusta, I didn’t really worry about what place I got because … I already won, because I was there,” she said.
But then she did really well. Leonhart finished in seventh place in her age group.
“I still wanted to do good because it was a competition, and once I hit my drives, I was feeling pretty good,” she said.
She was certainly well prepared. She started playing when she was 4, played her first tournament when she was 6 and won her first tournament when she was 8.
“I just started liking it and played a lot,” she said.
But after the experience of a lifetime this past week, she’s got new motivation — to make sure it’s not the last time she plays Augusta.
“I realized that I was there, and it was so cool to be there. And I just want to keep going there,” Leonhart said.