Yards away from the path that honors him and other Air Capital Classic champions, Scott Parel played the 18th hole at Crestview Country Club during Tuesday’s practice round free of trouble.
It was an enjoyable stroll for the 49-year-old Parel, who became the tournament’s oldest winner last June with his first Web.com Tour victory.
“A lot of good memories,” said Parel, whose final-round 64 produced a three-shot victory. “Certainly not bad memories.”
There haven’t been many better weeks of golf for the tour journeyman from Augusta, Ga. But that, in part, was the rub of Parel’s 2013 season.
Parel made a meteoric rise from 153rd to 14th on the Web.com money list with his lone tour victory. But over the season’s final 13 tournaments, Parel couldn’t maintain a top 25 spot that would have guaranteed him his first PGA Tour card this year. He finished 36th.
“It’s not a fraternity you want to be in, but it happens every year,” Parel said. “Obviously, I’d rather have not won and got my card, but I don’t think it detracts from winning. You should have a lot of pride in winning on this tour.”
There are parallels to Parel’s return to Wichita. A back injury slowed him through the early portion of last season. But at Crestview, Parel’s putting helped him climb atop the leaderboard after 54 holes, and he didn’t surrender the advantage in the final round.
“I was just in a comfort zone for whatever reason,” Parel said. “I had a buddy (Keith Nolan) I like to have caddie for me.
“I never really felt too on edge, and I made everything that I hit that week.”
This year, Parel is 111th on the money list, earning $17,427 in nine tournaments. Another physical ailment – plantar fasciitis in his left heel – surfaced early in the tour season and has limited his ability to practice.
“You’re supposed to rest it,” Parel said. “Well, good luck with that. I can’t sit out for four weeks and be off my feet. I’m just going to have to deal with it.”
With icing and stretching, Parel has found a way to manage the pain. He has made the cut in his last two events, posting a season-best 18th place finish at the tour’s last stop in Cleveland. Good putting was again a factor.
Parel’s vibe is certainly strong at Crestview, although Nolan won’t be carrying his bag this week. A regular caddie for PGA Tour veteran Lee Janzen, Nolan had to make a last-minute switch to Hartford, Conn., after Janzen advanced through Monday qualifying at the Travelers Championship.
“It’s one of those things where you know it worked last time, so wouldn’t you want to try to make everything as close to what it was last year?” Parel said. “I think that’s just common sense.… I’d still just love for this to have the same outcome.”
For Parel, a former computer programmer who attended Georgia but didn’t play college golf, time is a greater factor in the pursuit of his PGA Tour dream. He got within one shot at the tour’s qualifying tournament in 2011. Parel’s win at Crestview ensured him of more time on the Web.com Tour, but he’s still looking for more.
“Realistically, I’m 49 years old,” Parel said. “Am I going to be a top 10 player in the world in my life? Probably not. I’m not naive enough to think that.
“I would just like to be able to get out there and see how I could do at that level. It’s a place where you can make a pretty good living, and have a couple good years and take care of your family. But bottom line, being a winner on this tour is a good thing.”