The 2012 AT&T National golf tournament opened Wednesday with the help of two local teenagers, selected to tee off the ceremonial first shot with 2009 tournament champion and organizer Tiger Woods.
The pair, Sarah Hesterman, 13, a freshman at The Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, and Nicholas Joy, 15, of Upper Marlboro, both teed off following ceremonies honoring tournament sponsors and organizations.
While Hesterman, golfing since she was 6 years old, hooked her shot into the grass just before the fairway, she said she was still excited to meet Woods and tour Congressional Country Club for the day.
“It was really cool to meet him, she said. “I was nervous, but he's really nice.”
Hesterman and Joy were selected as rising young golfers and children of military parents. The AT&T National and its host organization, the Tiger Woods Foundation, as well as the Bethesda-based security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin are sponsoring events for military personnel throughout the tournament.
Hesterman's father, John Hesterman is a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General, and her mother, Jenni Hesterman, is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel.
Joy's father, Nick Joy Sr., is a member of the Army National Guard.
Nick Joy Sr. said much like Wood's late father, Earl Woods, he has been his son's golf coach since Nicholas was 10 years old. The pair play at the course at Andrews Air Force Base on Joint Base Andrews in southern Maryland.
Joy is a junior at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, where he plays varsity golf.
He said Woods told him he hit the ball well.
“That was pretty cool,” he said.
Hesterman is from Arlington, Va., but goes to school at Holy Cross in Kensington. She too hits the links with her father at the course at Andrews, but also works with a professional to perfect her swing.
Hesterman's coach, Andy Viglucci, a private golf instructor working in Arlington, said Hesterman's tee shows enough promise that he considers her a LPGA-hopeful.
“She works hard and she can hit the ball,” he said. “If she wants, this could take her to college or the pros.”
Today's professionals will start competing for their share of the $6.5 million purse starting at 7 a.m. Thursday.