Orangefield’s Xander Parks leaves no doubt as state 3A champion  

Published 3:37 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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It didn’t take Xander Parks long Tuesday morning to send an intimidating message that he had no intention of returning to Orangefield without the 3A state championship golf trophy.

Trailing Callisburg’s Bob Moershell by one shot after posting a two-under 70 on Monday, Parks stunned everyone in sight by driving the 385-yard, par 4 first hole at Jimmy Clay Golf Course. Included among the shocked were the players putting on No. 1.

Parks two-putted for a birdie to pull into a tie, took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-5, 4th, got to three-under, then cruised to a 72 and a three-stroke victory with a 142.

Moershell, who seemingly never recovered after Parks’ opening drive, shot 76 and placed second at 145.

Xander’s brother Lincoln battled with his putting, logged an 81 and finished seventh at 154 (73-81). It was Lincoln’s second consecutive year to finish seventh at state. The sophomore has two more shots at a state title, however.

Orangefield’s team, after shooting 316 and sitting in third place after day one, added a 332 on Tuesday and wound up fourth. Other Bobcats scores included Reese Johnson 170 (85-85), Ethan Gunter 182 (88-94) and Alex Montz 197 (93-104).

Xander Parks, meanwhile, completed an impressive comeback from injury that started two weeks ago when he and Lincoln finished one-two in the 3A regional. Expected to dominate as a senior, his season looked like it might be going down the drain after back woes left him struggling to break 80.

“I am so proud of what Xander was able to accomplish,” said Babe Zaharias pro Mitch Duncan, who has been Parks instructor since he was eight. “It did not look good two months ago. David Prioux, a chiropractor whose office is on the 14th hole at The Babe, was really a difference maker in helping him with the back.

“The rest was all guts and hard work. He worked his tail off day after day, week after week. Watching him the last two days was awesome. Lots of big drives, fairways and greens. He was not going to be denied. I am so happy for Xander and his family.”

An added bonus for Xander will likely be a second consecutive Babe Zaharias Boys Junior Golfer of the Year Award next week. Lincoln, on the strength of five tournament wins during the year, had been the favorite but it would be hard to overlook regional and state titles.

— Written by Bob West