The first-ever Drive, Chip & Putt champion is returning for a spot in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Kelly Xu’s biography on the Stanford University website ends with six words: First female champion at Augusta National.

A decade ago, Xu won the 9-and-under division at the inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals.

She was 4-foot-8, 61 pounds and called it, “The best day of my life.”

While being awarded her trophy — the first presented to a female at Augusta National — the fourth grader said, “I want to play on the LPGA Tour but not before attending a top university.”

Fast forward 10 years and Xu is a sophomore at Stanford. She arrives this week to compete in her first Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“It’s a full circle moment,” Xu said. “The Drive, Chip & Putt was one of my first achievements in golf, and it really helped foster my journey. What Augusta National has done, generously allowing us to use their course, has meant so much. If it wasn’t for the Drive, Chip & Putt, I wouldn’t have gotten that push.”

As a 9-year-old, Xu claimed her favorite subject in school was lunch; she said she’d serve Brunswick stew, cornmeal, cornbread, sweet corn, sweet tea and peach cobbler at the Champions Dinner.

Now, the Claremont, California, native majors in political science, and says her choice class this semester is a Chinese policy seminar.

As for her updated spread?

“I’d serve sushi,” she said.

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Sadie Englemann, Annika Sorenstam, Rose Zhang and Kelly Xu pose on the 18th tee during a practice round of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. (Darren Carroll/USGA)

Xu has made a habit of accomplishing goals since 2014. Following her trophy presentation, the fourth grader admitted that her dream pairing would be with former Secretary of State and Augusta National member Condoleezza Rice.

A decade later, Condoleezza is Xu’s academic advisor at Stanford.

Another aspect that hasn’t wavered is Xu’s respect for Augusta National.

As a child, she called the layout, “The most amazing course in the world,” and echoes the adoration as a 19-year-old.

“My parents are immigrants, and 10 years ago, we didn’t understand the depth of Augusta’s history,” said Xu, who hasn’t returned to Augusta since 2014. “After 10 years of golf, we get it now.”

Xu is vying to become the first competitor to capture a Drive, Chip & Putt title and ANWA crown.

“It’s bigger than I can comprehend right now,” Xu said. “I’m a process person, so my goal is to do 150 percent off the course to help my preparation.

“But, yeah, when I step onto that first tee box, I know the nerves will be insane.”

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