BOB WEST ON THE GOLF – Xander Parks takes giant step in competition – Port Arthur News

BOB WEST ON THE GOLF – Xander Parks takes a giant leap in competition

Posted at 12:07 a.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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

Parks, named Babe Zaharias Boys Player of the Year last spring as a junior, plunged into deep waters as he competed in pre-qualification for the Cadence Bank Houston Open from Nov. 10-13. He faced a field of 106 pros and top amateurs for one of eight spots in the final qualifier next Monday.

For Parks, who finished 7e at the 4A state tournament in May, it was mostly a way to see how his game compares to significantly better players. It was also a chance to gain invaluable experience and do it with Babe Zaharias’ head pro, Mitch Duncan, her longtime instructor, alongside constant influence.

Duncan, who worked with Xander and his younger brother Lincoln for about eight years, was thrilled to see his protege in such a competitive setting. He expected Parks to have some jitters at first, but thought it would be an overall positive experience.

“Xander has matured a lot over the last eight years of our collaboration,” Duncan said. “He is very talented and works hard on his game. He qualified every year from high school for the state tournament and finished well in those events, as well as TJGT events.

“As for me, I’m caddying for him, hopefully being a comfort zone. We both know the distance of his wedges and his irons, so club selection shouldn’t be a problem. I will try to guide him through any decisions we may encounter on the tour, which is something most juniors have to deal with.

Since Parks had an afternoon tee time for his round at the traditional Cypresswood course, his score was not available at the time of this writing. How he played will be discussed in this space next week.

Meanwhile, Parks, who is drafted by Lamar and McNeese State, among others, wasn’t the only local player in the pre-qualifier. Former PN-G and Baylor star Braden Bailey was also on the court. Bailey, who has struggled to get her professional career off the ground, has a history with the Houston Open.

In 2019, he received a sponsor exemption in the final field, made a huge statement with a 67 in the first round, and won $18,262 after finishing T51. He ended up beating the other two PN-G alumni in the field – Chris Stroud and Andrew Landry.

It has been difficult for him since, mainly because the COVID 19 pandemic has severely limited playing opportunities for young players in Bailey’s position. He continues to work on his game, but badly needs to be able to play competitively.

CHIP SHOTS: Despite closing with three straight birdies for a three-under 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 short of the six-under par.

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

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

Daffue and Landry are both competing in this week’s World Tech Championship in Mayakoba.

At Monday’s Senior 50 Plus 2 Ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Jimmy Cady, Danny Robbins, Bob Luttrell and a fourth ghost won the forward with minus 2. It was also the winning score at the back for the team of Mike Brown, Dwayne Morvant, Lee Bertrand and a ghost.

The closest winners were Ron Mistrot (#2), Darrell Mouille (#7), Morvant (#12), and Ed Holley (#15).

The format for last Wednesday’s Zaharias DogFight was a flying 6-6-6. The Gary Whitfill-James Smith duo won the first flight with a 67, Bertrand-Harrell Guidry took the second flight with a 70, Larry Reece-Dale Carter teamed up to win the third flight with a 75 and Mouille-Jerry Watson won the fourth flight with a 79.

Cady (#2, 3-foot-2), Ron LaSalle (#7, 5-inch), Dillard Darbonne (#12, 8-1), and Art Turner (#15, 4-10).

In the Oct. 19 DogFight, played in an all-points format, the team of Mike Brown, Jeremy Hemler, Rufus Reyes and Charlie Perez placed first with 27 points. Don MacNeil (#2, 6-4), Perez (#7, 13-3) and James Johnson (#15, 5-1) were the closest winners.

The Super Senior Ball 2 on Saturday October 22 saw the team of James Shipley, Cap Hollier Jeff Rinehart and Larry Johnson win the forward with Under 3. Under 2 won the back for the quartet of Cady, Ron Carlin, Lonnie Mosley and Tom Brown.

A better ball at 2 was the format for the senior match on Friday, October 21 at Zaharias. Craig Geoffroy-Robbins posted a 68 to edge Ted Freeman-LaSalle by one shot in First Flight. There was a tie at 71 in Second Flight between Charlie Leard-Glenn Judice and Jeremy Hemler-Guidry.

In the third steal, Roger Koch-Danny Harrington shot a 73 against Mistrot-Reyes by three. Kaleb Klein-Rinehart took the fourth steal with a 76, winning by two over Dan Flood-Dwayne Benoit.

The closest wins to the pin went to Earl Richard (#2, 1-2), Joe Gongora (#7, 9-8), Cady (#12, 13-0) and Flood (# 15, 7-0).

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Martin E. Berry