PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Parel, once a Monday Qualifier star, has advice for viral Visacki
April 28, 2021
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- April 28, 2021
- Scott Parel at the 2021 Cologuard Classic. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Count Scott Parel among the millions who've seen Michael Visacki go viral this week.
“I saw it all over Twitter, and it has kind of taken off from there,” Parel said Tuesday while preparing for the PGA TOUR Champions' Insperity Invitational this week outside Houston. “It’s pretty cool.”
By now anyone who follows golf is familiar with Visacki’s story. If not, you can find it here. One media outlet called Visacki a mini-tour legend. He finally broke through on Monday, qualifying for the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship that starts on Thursday.
"I made it." ❤️— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 26, 2021
Michael Visacki fights back tears as he tells his father that he's reached a lifelong goal of competing on the PGA TOUR.
He successfully Monday-Qualified for the @ValsparChamp. pic.twitter.com/5ci5L1KoLp
Parel hopes it goes well for Visacki. But, the now-PGA TOUR Champions standout is glad his potential viral moment of a similar vein was long before "going viral" meant anything more than someone had a nasty cough.
Parel turned pro at the age of 31. His breakthrough moment was qualifying for the 2002 U.S. Open at Settindown Creek in Roswell, Georgia. Parel was 37 at the time, with no status anywhere.
“That was probably the best day of golf that I’ve ever played,” Parel said. “Thirty-six holes in one day. I think I shot 12 under for the day and second place was like 3 under or 5 under. So it was one of those days I was just unconscious.”
Parel said his brother-in-law caddied for him that day. They had a pretty good feeling by the back nine of the second 18th that Parel would secure one of the three spots available to get into the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York.
“I was very, very excited. I don’t remember exactly what I did,” said Parel, who ranks fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. “I called my wife, for sure. What you kind of don’t realize is the tournament is the next week. There are all these things you need to do. How was I gonna get there? I gotta find a hotel. My wife and kids, my mom and dad, they all wanna come. It was kind of a whirlwind.”
Parel didn’t really have time to think about where his game needed to be. As it turns out, almost no one’s game was ready for the challenge presented by Bethpage Black.
Parel was caught in the carnage. He says now he’s not even sure that had he played well he’d have been able to make the cut.
“Playing at Bethpage … it was very intimidating,” Parel said. “It was cool, but it was a big eye-opener for me. I think I shot like 81-82. I didn’t finish last, but it was pretty close.
“Tiger ended up the only guy under par. He won pretty easily (Woods finished 3 under; Phil Mickelson finished second at even par). I realized I was nowhere near good enough to play on courses like that.”
The 12th hole was a 500-yard par 4. Parel said he couldn’t reach the fairway off the tee. The weather also was unseasonably cold, and it rained.
“For my first one, it was as tough as it could get,” Parel said.
But Parel did gain some confidence from making it into the field, and the next year he reached the final stage of Q-School and earned status on the Korn Ferry Tour. Now he’s an accomplished PGA TOUR Champions player, with three victories under his belt.
So what’s his best advice for Visacki?
“I feel for him because now the spotlight is on him,” Parel said. “He can’t lay low. With all of this I’m worried he might struggle. And it’s a tough course, too.
“Shut all of this off and realize it’s just a golf tournament. He’s played a lot of tournament golf. He needs to convince himself it’s just another one. There’s 18 holes, and everyone is playing from the same tees. Don’t get caught up in the fantasy. I shot my 81-82 and the only people who knew were my family and friends. It was just a footnote. If you let your mind get racing you can’t focus on the shot you’re getting ready to hit.”