Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson. Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer.
And now, Sarah Lydic.
After her win at the regional Drive, Chip & Putt competition at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., earlier this month, the 11-year-old wunderkind has earned a bid to the national championship at Augusta National — home of not only the Masters tournament, but of some of the game’s greatest masters as well.
“Part of me feels like I’m in a dream and that this isn’t really happening,” said Lydic of the accomplishment.
“I also feel proud of all the hard work I’ve done this summer to prepare myself for this competition. I’m excited to be going to Augusta, because I’ll be getting a chance to be where the Masters is played and see that beautiful course and be around many great golfers.”
The Ocean View native and member of Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club finished first overall in the Girls’ 10-11 division at the regional competition, going up against golfers from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and even Canada.
Her total score of 115 bested Ohio’s Mia Raynes and Kentucky’s Trinity Beth, who finished with scores of 109 and 108, respectively.
Placing fourth in the drive category, and tied for third in putting, Lydic’s edge came in the chipping competition, where she out-shot everyone, with a total score of 40, to earn the win and the only qualifying spot for nationals in her respective division.
Raynes and Beth, who finished second and third, each earned alternate spots.
“My favorite part of going to these big events is the feeling of competition,” she said. “I put a lot of time into practicing, and this is my chance to show I can do it.”
While she’s no stranger to putting on a show on the links — winning sub-regionals in Philadelphia at the age of 8, while then competing in the tournament’s youngest division, 7- to 9-year-olds — Lydic’s furthest advancement to date started earlier this summer, at the Lone Pine Country Club in Washington, Pa.
The first-place finish there qualified her for the sub-regional event in Farmington, Pa., where she also took first, advancing her to regionals at Oakmont.
“Another thing I like is being around so many other junior golfers,” said Lydic of competing on the Drive, Chip & Putt circuit. “Where my sister and I play and practice, we don’t see that many junior golfers, so these events give me a chance to see that there are many other girls and boys who are into golf like we are. It motivates me to keep practicing and keep getting better.”
While the 11-year-old certainly enjoys the game and competing at a high level, she also enjoys just being a regular 11-year-old, too — playing winter basketball through the Ocean City (Md.) Recreation & Parks Department, singing and dancing at home, playing the drums in the school band, going to the beach in the summer, friendly competition with her older sister, Hannah, and being determined to one day learn to surf, like her parents, Garrett and Leslie.
While she’s striving for another first-place finish when nationals get under way at Augusta during the first week of April of 2016 (on the Sunday prior to the Masters), Lydic also has big plans for the less-immediate future.
“I want to keep getting better and one day beat my older sister,” she said. “I would really like to play in the LPGA one day. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’ll keep working hard and, hopefully, one day, I’ll be ready.”