First Tee participant gets chance of a lifetime
Ayala will tee it up in Wednesday's pro-am at the Wells Fargo Championship
April 29, 2014
- Alejandra Ayala will select her pro-am partner on Tuesday evening.
“I’ve been practicing my golf the same, like it’s a normal tournament,” said First Tee of Atlanta participant Alejandra Ayala of preparing to play in front of more fans than she ever had in her life at the Wells Fargo Championship. “What is different, is my dad is helping me prepare how to handle crowds.”
Ayala, 14, of Alpharetta, Ga., won’t be making it to class at Webb Bridge Middle School. She will instead wake up and head to a tee time with one of the best PGA TOUR players in the world at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. on Wednesday.
Ayala won the grand prize in the 2014 Wells Fargo Succeeding Together contest, which offers teenage participants of The First Tee the chance to celebrate a coach or mentor in their lives. Through video essays, participants from chapters across the country shared inspiring stories of how a person and the Core Values of The First Tee have positively affected their lives and helped them achieve their goals.
Ayala is a member of The First Tee of Atlanta, one of the charitable beneficiaries of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. As the grand prize winner, she has the unique experience of playing in the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am. She said she was excited but nervous about her Pro-Am debut.
To make the experience even more special, Ayala gets to pick the PGA TOUR player who will be her partner in the pro-am. Her choice will be revealed on Tuesday night at the Pro-Am Pairings Party, but she did give the reason behind her pick.
”He is a really great putter,” she said of her choice. “I am excited to watch him on the greens and hopefully learn a thing or two. I practice every day and about half the time I’m working on my putting.”
Ayala credits her coaches and the volunteers at The First Tee of Atlanta as the reason her video won the grand prize.
“My coaches and all the volunteers who help at The First Tee are amazing,” she said. “They help with our golf, but also help us learn life lessons. They are patient and teach us to never stop trying to get better. I can’t wait to come back and tell them all about my experience at Wells Fargo.”
Ayala, right with Executive Director of the First of Atlanta Vanessa Hawkins
Ayala’s parents and older brother Dario, also a member of The First Tee of Atlanta, will join her for the trip to Charlotte. Golf is a family affair for the Ayalas – dad Fernando has volunteered in the Media Center at TOUR Championship for four years, and she and Dario worked in the Volunteer Tent last year. They are both thrilled to have been selected as standard bearers at this year’s tournament after being on the wait list for several years.
It was actually at the TOUR Championship in 2008 where, attending as a fan with her family, Ayala realized golf was the sport for her. One of her favorite players, Camilo Villegas, won in a playoff over Sergio Garcia.
“His confidence in such a stressful situation really inspired me,” she said. “It was so exciting and rewarding. I was playing different sports at the time but I knew right then, golf was the game for me.”
Even though Alejandra won’t be in class on Wednesday, it’s safe to say she will be learning core values and lessons on the golf course which are almost as valuable as the arithmetic and science classes she will certainly make up.
To see Alejandra’s winning video submission, please visit: http://www.succeedingtogether.wellsfargobank.com/