A young Anchorage golfer's time on the local links has proven he's up to par for one of the golfing world's major events.

Although black bears are hibernating at the Anchorage Golf Course, where 14-year-old Ian Bruchhauser plays, the limited golf season hasn't stopped him from excelling at the game.

Bruchhauser has earned a spot in the April 7 Drive, Chip and Putt finals at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The event takes place before the club's professional Masters golf tournament.

"Crazy. Honestly, very crazy. It's a dream come true," Bruchhauser said Friday.

Bruchhauser, who attended Sand Lake Elementary and Mears Middle School, says he started golfing at the age of 4 by hitting foam golf balls around the house.

"My family really encouraged it and I just took off with it because I loved it, I had fun with it," he said.

Bruchhauser just made a quick trip back to Anchorage from Southern California. Because winter golf is limited in Alaska, he's there practicing as much as he can for Augusta.

Drive, Chip and Putt officials say Bruchhauser is the first Alaskan to compete in the finals.

"It's a fun sport," Bruchhauser said. "You get to go out. You get to see animals just walking down the hole in front of you. The people are wonderful that you meet and play with, they're always nice, kind supportive."

Bruchhauser won a Drive, Chip and Putt qualifier at Anchorage Golf Course last summer. He then won again in Oregon and then at Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington to get to Augusta.

The teen, who doesn't have a coach and doesn't take lessons, has a message for young golfers.

"Practice until you think you can't practice any more, and keep practicing because eventually it's going to pay off," Bruchhauser said.

Drive, Chip and Putt national officials say hundreds of kids participate in the qualifier events, but only 80 make it to Augusta.

Bruchhauser says he'll go and do the best he can.

"It doesn't really matter where you've came from or what you've done," he said. "You have the same chance as the person next to you. So just work hard and who knows."

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