Story by Nathan Peterson
For the 18th year, First Tee and PGA TOUR Champions will put on the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting the First Tee, with 82 teens from First Tee chapters across the United States coming to Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course for the PGA TOUR Champions tournament.
This year, two Valley natives, Abigale Morris and Jake Walden, will make the trip to Pebble Beach.
Abigale, a senior at Canyon View High School, excels on and off the golf course in many ways. In school, Morris holds a 4.6 GPA while managing to play golf at a high level. Morris placed first in the Tucson City Junior and won JGAA Most Improved Girl. She also dipped into another passion of hers, winning the Student Television Network National Award.
While Morris shows consistency at a high level, she has had to overcome new surroundings multiple times in her life. Being a child in a military family, Morris has gone through three different First Tee chapters across the country that all have taught her different but important lessons.
“All those experiences have definitely made me into the golfer I am today,” Morris said. “There are so many different opportunities, it’s kind of cool to see how many different chapters have so many other things going on. Playing nine hole tournaments when I was in Colorado set me up to play in nine hole tournaments now too. And now I play super high in those now so it is cool to see how my game has grown in all those years.”
Along with being a golfer with First Tee, Morris takes time to mentor and coach through First Tee as a Phoenix Junior coach.
“It brings the fun piece back into things,” Morris said. “Things definitely get more competitive as you get older. Helping little kids and watching them hit their first shot brings all the fun back into golf.”
In addition to maintaining a high level of success in school and golf, Morris finds ways to give back to the community through volunteer work for the Food Bank, Crutches for Africa, Desert Mashie, and the Salvation Army.
“I believe it is very important to give back,” Morris explained. “There are always people that have less than you. Helping others has a way of humbling you because when you have so many things going on, you kind of forget where you’re at. You can forget all the blessings that you do have in life so helping out and volunteering helps me be thankful for everything I have. It brings me so much joy and happiness to see how I am helping and influencing other people’s lives that are truly struggling. That is what truly
motivates me, I never want to see anyone at their lowest so going out and doing what I can is a really big goal.”
Morris comes from a family that has pushed her to be the best golfer she can be. Being put in to First Tee since a young age, Morris’ father is an avid golfer which attracted Abigale to the game away from volleyball and track. Morris’ younger brother DJ is also part of the same First Tee chapter as Abigale.
Morris was selected by a panel of judges based on her personal growth and life skills learned through First Tee’s program as well as her playing ability. This year’s field of PGA TOUR Champions players will feature World Golf Hall of Fame Members Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh, as well as three-time PURE Insurance Championship winners Kirk Triplett and Jeff Sluman. Clint Eastwood serves as chairman of the PURE Insurance Championship.
“I am very excited. I feel like it is a huge honor.” Morris explained. “Pebble Beach is a bucket list item for most golfers. There is so much history and the course is so beautiful. And on top of that, I get to go with First Tee and have the opportunity to play with some professionals along with meeting a bunch of different First Tee members from across the country. It is a huge honor.”
One male and one female First Tee member will be crowned champion in September. Walden and Morris have the opportunity to be the third and fourth champion from Arizona including Patrick Fernandez in 2016 paired with Michael Allen and Ashley Menne in 2019 paired with Tom Lehman.
For Jake Walden’s story, click here