Elizabeth Nguyen and Jared Robinson in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach

Categories: Participant Spotlight

Two (2) Local Teens Selected to Play in Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach

Elizabeth Nguyen and Jared Robinson head to Pebble Beach week of Sept. 21

Pinehurst, NC (July 1, 2015) – The First Tee of the Sandhills is sending Elizabeth Nguyen and Jared Robinson to compete in the 2015 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, an official Champions Tour event that will be held September 25-27 and televised internationally on Golf Channel.

Nguyen and Robinson will join 79 other participants from The First Tee chapters for the event, which is in its 12th year.

“At Nature Valley we have great admiration for the mission of The First Tee. The program has such a meaningful impact in the lives of young people by strengthening important values like responsibility, judgement and perseverance. The opportunity for these teenagers to be selected as a part of The First Tee has the power to transform lives,” said Carla Vernón at General Mills. “The teenagers selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open, including Elizabeth and Jared, have worked hard to prepare for this opportunity, and we are immensely proud to welcome them to this year’s tournament.”

Our local participants were selected by a national panel of judges who evaluated playing ability and comprehension of the life skills and character education learned through their involvement with The First Tee.

Champions Tour players committed to play include last year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open winner John Cook, Charles Schwab Cup contender and World Golf Hall of Fame member Colin Montgomerie, as well as two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen. Janzen claimed the pro-junior competition last year when his junior partner, Christopher Meyers from The First Tee of Tucson, holed a 4-iron from the fairway for a final-hole albatross to secure the title.

Elizabeth Nguyen, a junior at Pinecrest High School joined The First Tee of the Sandhills in 2012 but has been a part of The First Tee network since age 8, having previously attended The First Tee of Tampa Bay. Elizabeth carries a full plate as the President of French Club and Future Business Leaders of America, a member of National Honors Society, Varsity Golf Team member and currently ranked #1 in her class. Elizabeth continues to give back through her dedication to youth opportunities and initiatives as a junior volunteer with The First Tee of the Sandhills.

Jared Robinson, also a junior at Pinecrest High School, joined The First Tee of the Sandhills in 2009 after his family moved from Ohio. Jared is very involved in his school as a section lead in the marching band, a National Honors Society member and Varsity Golf Team member. Jared finds time to give back, when not working at the Country Club of North Carolina, through junior coaching with The First Tee, assisting with projects in the Chapter office and supporting our annual special events. In 2013, Jared won The First Tee National Speedgolf tournament at The Foundry Club in Richmond, Virginia.

Selected juniors will be teamed with 81 Champions Tour players and 162 amateurs as they compete for the pro-junior title at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course. Play will be conducted on these courses on Friday and Saturday, and the final round will be played on Pebble Beach Sunday.

As one of 175 chapters within The First Tee Network, the competition for participant opportunities in very high. Locally, participants are encouraged to apply for every opportunity that they become eligible for. Not only for the opportunity to earn a spot but for the experience of applying and the emotions that must be handled throughout the process.

Executive Director, Courtney Stiles, said “Our chapter feels privileged to have received two times the good news this week. It’s a huge tap on the back to our volunteers, coaches, mentors and staff when we see participants excel on and off the course.”

“We are excited to see Jared and Elizabeth on TV this fall. We know they will represent us well. Congratulations to our coaches, volunteers and staff who have had such a positive impact on so many of our participants through the years.” said Bob Klug, Board Member and former President.

Program Director, Jamie Martin, noted that our participants are ‘on a roll’ having had double exposure at the Nature Valley First Tee Open in 2012, 2014 and now this year. “Elizabeth and Jared went into this year’s application process with an open mind. They looked at this as a great opportunity for practice and knew that being juniors meant if they did not receive a vote in 2015 they still had 2016 to reapply. They are wonderful role models and representatives for The First Tee of the Sandhills. We are so proud of their accomplishments and look forward to celebrating the experience with them later this year.”

As part of a special series called “The First Tee Wednesday”, the Golf Channel showcases The First Tee on the first Wednesday of every month during Morning Drive. This year The First Tee home office utilized the partnership to announce the 81 participants LIVE with a ‘selection show’ feel to the broadcast, releasing selected participants names based on their chapter’s region throughout the show.
During Wednesday morning’s announcement Elizabeth Nguyen was away from home attending the Future Business Leaders of America National Conference in Chicago, Illinois. How did she find out the exciting news? “My phone started ringing and on the other end was my entire family screaming with excitement and sharing a video of my name appearing on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive.” “Right now it’s hard to come up with the right words to describe how much this opportunity means for my family and me… especially since my dad is home safely from his last military duty. I am ecstatic to be able to share this once in a lifetime experience with my entire family while representing The First Tee of the Sandhills and a community we love so much.”
Jared spent the early morning watching Morning Drive at home with his family. His nerves were high as our region was not unveiled until 80 minutes into the broadcast. “I almost couldn’t stand it. When our region appeared I took a final deep breath and just hoped I had gotten in… When my name flashed on the screen I was immediately overcome with excitement. All of my hard work through the application process and additional time put in at the golf course had paid off.” “I am looking forward to experiencing a very special event that I have spent many years watching on TV. Having the opportunity to meet so many wonderful golf professionals in person, hearing their stories and soaking the full experience in. I can’t wait to stand on the 18th Tee at Pebble Beach. To see the iconic golf hole in person will truly be a dream come true.”
The First Tee of the Sandhills is one of 175 chapters around the country and in select international locations. Serving the Sandhills since 2003, thousands of young people have been impacted through chapter programs and The First Tee National School Program, which is in 63 Sandhills elementary schools. The golf-based programs are focused on building character through The First Tee Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment.

To learn more about The First Tee of the Sandhills, visit www.thefirstteesandhills.org. For more information on the 2015 Nature Valley First Tee Open, visit www.thefirstteeopen.com. For more information on Elizabeth Nguyen and Jared Robinson, to request an interview or photos, please contact Courtney Stiles, Executive Director of The First Tee of the Sandhills at cstiles@thefirstteesandhills.org or 910.255.3035.

About The First Tee of the Sandhills
The First Tee of the Sandhills (www.thefirstteesandhills.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization established to positively impact the lives of young people by providing structured educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. The Chapter was formed in 2003 to bring the Life and Golf Skills Curriculum to the six (6) counties in the defined service area including, Moore, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Montgomery and Robeson. Since inception, more than 2,300 young people have been exposed to The First Tee curriculum through our registered participant opportunities. These youth are first exposed to The First Tee through the National School Program, which is currently operating in over 60 elementary schools or through outreach programs such as DRIVE and TARGET.

Media Contact:
Courtney Stiles, Executive Director
The First Tee of the Sandhills

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