BOB WEST ON GOLF — Xander Parks takes giant step up in competition

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Orangefield’s rising star Xander Parks tested his game at the next level Tuesday and had a trusty security blanket on his bag to provide a calming influence and keen insight.

Parks, named the Babe Zaharias Boys Player of the Year last spring as a junior, plunged into deep water by entering the pre-qualifer for the Nov. 10-13 Cadence Bank Houston Open. He was competing against a field of 106 pros and top amateurs for one of eight spots in next Monday’s final qualifier.

For Parks, who finished 7th in the 4A state tourney in May, it was mostly a way to see how his game stacks up against noticeably better players. It was also a chance to gain invaluable experience and do it with Babe Zaharias head pro Mitch Duncan, his long-time instructor, alongside as a steadying influence.

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Duncan, who has worked with Xander and his younger brother Lincoln for roughly eight years, was excited about seeing his protégé in such a competitive setting. He expected Parks might have some angst early but thought it was going to be an overall positive experience.

“Xander’s matured a lot over the last eight years of us working together,” Duncan said. “He’s very talented and works hard on his game. He’s qualified every year of high school for the state tourney and finished well in those events, as well as TJGT events.

“As far as me caddying for him, I hope to be a comfort zone. We both know the distance of his wedges and irons, so club selection shouldn’t be an issue. I’m going to try and guide him through any decisions we may encounter during the round, which is something most juniors have to deal with.”

Since Parks had an afternoon tee time for his round at Cypresswood’s Tradition Course, his score was not available as of this writing. How he played will be discussed in this space next week.

Meanwhile, Parks, who is being recruited by Lamar and McNeese State, among others, wasn’t the only local player in the pre-qualifer. Former PN-G and Baylor star Braden Bailey was also in the field. Bailey, who has struggled to get his pro career off the ground, has history with the Houston Open.

In 2019, he received a sponsor’s exemption into the final field, made a huge statement with a first-round 67 and went on to win $18,262 after finishing T51. He wound up beating both of the other PN-G alums in the field – Chris Stroud and Andrew Landry.

It’s been a rough go for him since, primarily because the COVID 19 pandemic severely limited playing opportunities for younger players in Bailey’s position. He continues to work on his game, but sorely needs to be able to play competitively.

CHIP SHOTS: Despite closing with three consecutive birdies for a three-under-par 68, Stroud missed his first cut of the year in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. The Port Neches-Groves ex had opened with a 70. He was two-shots off the six-under-par cut.

Stroud is expected to return to the tour in the Houston Open.

Lamar ex MJ Daffue had his best showing since earning a 2022-23 PGA Tour card with a tie for 29th in Bermuda. Daffue carded rounds of 65-70-73-66 for a 10-under total of 274, earning a check of $41,654.

Both Daffue and Landry are playing in this week’s World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Jimmy Cady, Danny Robbins, Bob Luttrell and a ghost fourth won the front with minus 2. That was also the winning score on the back for the team of Mike Brown, Dwayne Morvant, Lee Bertrand and a ghost.

Closest to the pin winners were Ron Mistrot (No. 2), Darrell Mouille (No. 7), Morvant (No. 12) and Ed Holley (No. 15).

Format for last Wednesday’s Zaharias DogFight was a flighted 6-6-6. The duo of Gary Whitfill-James Smith won First Flight with a 67, Bertrand-Harrell Guidry took Second Flight with a 70, Larry Reece-Dale Carter teamed to win Third Flight with a 75 and Mouille-Jerry Watson prevailed in Fourth Flight with a 79.

Closest to the pin winners were Cady (No. 2, 3 feet, 2 inches), Ron LaSalle (No. 7, 5 inches), Dillard Darbonne (No. 12, 8-1) and Art Turner (No. 15, 4-10).

In the Oct. 19 DogFight, played in an all-points-count format, the team of Mike Brown, Jeremy Hemler, Rufus Reyes and Charlie Perez placed first with 27 points. Closest to the pin winners were Don MacNeil (No. 2, 6-4), Perez (No. 7, 13-3) and James Johnson (No. 15, 5-1).

The Saturday Oct. 22 Super Senior 2 ball saw the team of James Shipley, Cap Hollier Jeff Rinehart and Larry Johnson win the front with minus 3. Minus 2 won the back for the foursome of Cady, Ron Carlin, Lonnie Mosley and Tom Brown.

A 2-man best ball was the format for the Friday Oct. 21 Senior Game at Zaharias. Craig Geoffroy-Robbins posted a 68 to edge Ted Freeman-LaSalle by a shot in First Flight. There was a tie at 71 in Second Flight between Charlie Leard-Glenn Judice and Jeremy Hemler-Guidry.

In Third Flight Roger Koch-Danny Harrington fired a 73 to best Mistrot-Reyes by three. Kaleb Klein-Rinehart took Fourth Flight with a 76, winning by two over Dan Flood-Dwayne Benoit.

Closest to the pin payoffs went to Earl Richard (No. 2, 1-2), Joe Gongora (No. 7, 9-8), Cady (No. 12, 13-0) and Flood (No. 15, 7-0).

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