Middle School Student Finishes 2nd In National Golf Tourney

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When Thanksgiving rolls around, the Brent Cannon family probably won't be watching the traditional turkey day football games on television.

Rather, they'll be tuned into the Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip and Putt competition on The Golf Channel.

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Blake Cannon

The family focus will be there because Blake Cannon, a Rim Country Middle School seventh-grader, will be shown participating in the Mutual of Omaha's Drive, Chip and Putt. The event, which was held Sept. 15 in Orlando, Florida, will be aired Nov. 22 on a tape-delayed basis.

In the competition, Cannon turned in a second-place finishing, competing against some of the finest young golfers in the country.

"He did great, we are really proud of him," his father Brent said.

His total score of 16, was just one greater than that of 11-12-years-age-group champion Lonnie Smith.

Both Smith and Cannon were the premiere golfers in the field.

The two entrants that tied for third place, Jack Holmgren and Gavin Hall, both tallied 19 points.

In the driving portion of the competition, Cannon ranked fifth among the 14 qualifiers. His best drive of 220 yards was third best among the entrants.

In chipping, he ranked sixth overall and in putting, finished fifth.

The Payson youth qualified for the national event by winning both the Arizona and Southwest Regional championships. He captured the Arizona crown April 29 at Desert Mirage Golf Course in Glendale.

For the state competition, 129 junior golfers in the four age groups -- 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14 -- entered the links shoot out.

Cannon emerged victorious, by shining in all three of the golf fundamentals -- longest of two drives, closest to the pin on three chips and fewest putting strokes from 7 feet and 20 feet.

The win qualified him for the Southwest Regional Championships held May 5 at Angel Park Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nev.

There, Cannon again demonstrated superior golf skills, finishing first overall, out-dueling Jordan Lippetz of Reno and Estevan Gonzalez of Las Vegas.

A field of 24 qualifiers from Arizona, California and Nevada competed in the Las Vegas shoot out.

In Drive, Chip and Putt events, young golfers -- regardless of their skill level or previous exposure to the game -- compete free of charge in the three golf skills. Prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each of the skills.

Drive, Chip and Putt was held this year in 85 cities across the United States.

Since the program's founding nine years ago, an estimated 100,000 junior golfers and their families have participated.

While Cannon was in Orlando, he also competed in the Robert Gamez Celebrity Invitational tournament, along with the other Drive, Chip and Putt qualifiers.

The tournament was played at the Celebration Golf Club at the Orlando World Center.

Blake was accompanied on the trip by his parents, Brent and Michelle.

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