The Coody twins are both playing The Honda Classic and they’re ready to run
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Written by Jeff Babineau @JeffBabz62
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – There was a singular reaction as word circulated in and around the swaying palms at PGA National early Tuesday that Parker Coody, 23, had earned a spot into the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic field through a playoff in a crowded qualifier.
Why, of course he did. After all, if you know anything about the Coody twins, you realized long ago they have an unspoken mantra: Anything you can do, I can do better.
Pierceson Coody, Parker’s more heralded twin brother and a two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, already was in the Honda field via a sponsor’s exemption. Those sorts of perks come your way as a former World No. 1 amateur and first-team college All-American, which Pierceson was his junior season at Texas. Monday, Parker shot 6-under 66 in a 140-player qualifier at Tesoro Club in Port St. Lucie. It earned him a spot in a 5-for-3 spots playoff first thing Tuesday. Parker made quick work of it.
On Tesoro’s opening par 4, Parker’s flip wedge approach from 59 yards struck the flagstick, setting up an easy birdie to secure his Honda start. By 9 a.m., with local birds barely awake, Parker and his father, Kyle Coody, already had motored south down the Florida Turnpike and were on the grounds at PGA National’s Champion course, scoping out the frightful Bear Trap and the back nine.
The Honda, which starts Thursday, will not mark the first time for either Coody twin to compete in a PGA TOUR event, but it will be the first one they will play as professionals. (Pierceson made two TOUR starts as an amateur, Parker one.) To do this together, well, it fits with everything they do. These two go together like milk and cereal.
“The goal is to play the (PGA) TOUR together,” said Pierceson, who ranks fourth in Korn Ferry Tour earnings, but will sprinkle in some upcoming TOUR starts at the Valspar Championship and AT&T Byron Nelson. Parker is focused mostly on the KFT, where he has limited status. “This is a great step in the right direction, and hopefully in five, 10 years, we’re still doing this.”
Adds Kyle Coody, the proud papa, “This is something I’ve always dreamed about.”
What drove Parker to try to qualify? If you really need to know ... “It would have sucked to have to watch him this week,” Parker said candidly, looking over to Pierceson, revealing a mischievous grin. The Coody twins sure do smile a lot.
Parker Coody Monday Qualifies for The Honda Classic
Ah, brothers will be brothers. The Coody boys simply have golf in their DNA, says their college coach, John Fields, who is in his 26th season at Texas. Pierceson and Parker are the 23-year-old Texas-tough grandsons of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody. Charles' son Kyle, who will be on Parker’s bag this week, played briefly as a pro, testing the Asian Tour after playing at Texas. The twins have been groomed for this stage once they decided to turn in their football cleats, baseball gloves and basketball high tops to enlist full-time in the family business.
To say they push one another is to say a hammer pushes a nail. They compete in everything they do. In many ways, each brother holds significant responsibility for the other one ascending to this level. Kyle Coody and his wife, Debbie, introduced the twins to golf as soon as the boys could stand, but also allowed them to roam around to other sports. If they didn’t enjoy golf initially, Kyle figured they could always find their way back. And they did.
Pierceson owns Korn Ferry Tour victories in Maine (last summer) and Panama (earlier this month). Parker has won on PGA TOUR Canada and was last year’s individual runner-up at the NCAA Championship. (The twins shared in the Longhorns’ team title.) Pierceson doesn’t blink when asked what either twin is capable of accomplishing this week. Both have the talent to win. Period.
The goal, eventually, is to earn special temporary membership through making the most of these opportunities. A top-10 finish would help a bunch. Results aside, already the week at Honda is special. Mother Debbie is flying in from Texas. The twins’ grandfather, Charles, who is 85, will be watching on television from home. He could not be prouder, Kyle said. Those cute little boys in white overalls who caddied for Grandpa at the 2006 Masters’ Par 3 Contest when they were 6 are starting to compete at the game’s highest level and thinking about their future pathway to Augusta National.
“It’s awesome,” Parker said of the two Coody start at Honda. He tees off No. 1 at 8:40 a.m. Thursday; Pierceson plays in the group behind him. “First step is to get here, right? And the next step is to play well from there. It’s awesome we’re both here, but we both want to do more than just be here.”
Pierceson and Parker Coody on opportunity to play at Honda
As for the brotherly rivalry? It is at the same time beautiful and incredibly intense. “I never want him to even get close to me,” Pierceson said. “But I’m always so happy when he does well, and I think he feels the same way. We’re always trying to beat each other by as many shots as possible.”
Kyle always has promoted competition between the two. In high school, with the boys already committed to attend Texas, Kyle told his sons he had two vehicles available that they could take to Austin. One was a sleek Mercedes, the other a small SUV. Which son would drive which vehicle? Simple. They played for it. That round went to Pierceson. (Parker did win the twins' very first race, beating Pierceson out of the womb by 37 minutes.)
“Yeah, they want to beat each other’s butts like you can’t believe, in everything,” Kyle said. “From how-fast-can-you-go-down-the-stairs to Ping-Pong, and everything else. But they’re best friends, and they are each other’s biggest fans. When they see one doing well, all it does is tell the other one, ‘Well, my brother is doing well, I can do it, too.’
“Golf is a lonely game. When they’d be out there practicing, they had each other. Is one getting up early to go practice? They always had the games and were doing all they could do.”
Sometimes, the twins’ intense sibling rivalry can transcend mortal limits. Case in point was their final fitness workout of the fall semester at Texas in late 2021. They asked Coach Fields if they could finish the final fitness session with a relay race, four on four. (You've already guessed the two anchor runners.) The Coodys wanted to finish the race one-on-one against the other.
Fields said the race went off at such a frantic pace that even the Texas track team stopped its training to watch. The indoor track at Texas is only 40 yards long; the idea was for players to sprint until they got near the finish, slow down, touch the wall, then sprint back, slowing down before the wall at the finish. Only the Coody twins weren’t much for the slow down part. Soon they were flying to the finish, neck and neck, neither brother willing to lose. Just before they crashed hard into the wall – Parker still claims to have won by an inch – each twin put his right arm out to cushion the blow. Simultaneously they hit. Both broke the radial tip of their right elbow. Exact place. Exact injury. Twins!
“I was devastated,” Fields said Tuesday, recounting the story. “I called my wife, Pearl. She was great. I told her, ‘You’re not going to believe what happened. I’m devastated.’ She told me, ‘That’s a God thing.’
“I said to her, ‘What do you mean?’ And she tells me, ‘When they’re recovering, they are only going to be able to putt and chip for like two months. I think they need to do that.’ Sure enough, when they came back, they were spot-on unbelievable around the greens, and helped us win a (2022) national championship.”
When Fields spoke to boys’ dad later that day – the boys convinced Fields to let them make the call first – Kyle told Fields that he fully understood what had transpired. “We agreed,” Fields said, “that they both lost their competitive minds for just a second.”
Assessing their games, Fields says Pierceson is an all-world driver of the golf ball (longtime PGA TOUR pro Brad Faxon said the caddies at Seminole, where Pierceson played a Walker Cup, still buzz about Pierceson’s ballstriking), and that leads to shorter clubs into greens and great scoring opportunities. Parker also drives it very well and can heat up with his irons. Both players have the ability to go low and be very comfortable doing so, which not all players can do.
Both players, Fields said, have made themselves into excellent putters.
“It's not luck that they have arrived here,” Fields said. “They have great (work) habits, their dad has mentored them well, they’ve had good teachers (the twins started with Chris Como when they were 12, and now are instructed by Troy Denton and Josh Gregory) ... They’ve just had success wherever they have gone, and it’s been fun to be around, I’ve got to tell you.”
Fields gushes about the Coodys as young men. He said the twins and their third Longhorns “amigo,” Cole Hammer, reminded him of throwback players that took him back to the 1970s and 80s.
The Texas program has turned out players such as Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler in recent years, and Fields sees no reason why the Coodys would not thrive at the highest level, as well.
“I think their ceiling is so high,” he said. “They have such belief that they are going to do something really special in golf. They enjoy the game, they respect the game, and they put the time and effort into it. And it seems to love them back.”
Finally, the Coodys are ready to measure themselves on the highest tour they could measure themselves on. Kyle Coody was asked when he knew his boys were ready to compete at the highest level. He points to a scene at the 2021 U.S. Open, Pierceson’s first major start. He walked out to the range on that first day at Torrey Pines, and there were plenty of open spaces to go hit balls quietly, in solitude. But he walked right up to where Phil Mickelson was hitting and dumped out his bag of balls. Yes, his father thought to himself.
“That’s what I wanted to see,” Kyle said. “A lot of guys might have gone three stalls down, whatever, not be part of that charade. I really believe that’s the biggest thing. Obviously, they have talent, obviously they’ve won at each level, if you believe at each step they can accomplish something. I really think it’s the mindset. That’s what you see in these young kids. Fearless.”
Fields often hears the twins are where they are primarily because they drive each other but he doesn't feel that's the full story.
"There is more to it," said the Longhorns coach. "And a lot of it has to do with Charlie Coody and what he did as far as winning the Masters and winning on TOUR. They’ve always been around champions, and they grew up living that."
Seated alone in The Honda Classic media room on Tuesday afternoon, Parker was asked what positions the twins played in their football days, and whether the two were so competitive that they had to play on opposite sides of the ball.
“Pierceson did play both sides, but on offense, I was the quarterback, and he was my receiver,” Parker said. He let loose one of those radiant Coody smiles. “He was my guy. Funny enough, I spend a lot of time with him. I still trust him.”