Scott Parel and Mardy Fish win the Diamond Resorts Invitational


Scott Parel, who spent 10 years as a computer programmer before turning professional at age 31, went wire-to-wire in winning the third annual, 54-hole Diamond Resorts Invitational on Sunday in a playoff over fellow PGA Tour Champions player Scott Dunlap. Two time-major champion John Daly finished third.

In his second year on the over-50 tour, Parel was flu-ridden for two days until tournament eve and didn’t play a practice round. But, despite feeling achy, he birdied nine holes in the first round at the par-71, 6,675-yard Tranquilo Golf Club and led after each day under the Modified Stableford System.

“Beware the injured animal,” Parel said.

Parel won the 32-player professional division with a par on the first sudden-death playoff hole, the 203-yard 18th, where  Dunlap hit a fat 5-iron shot short into water and double-bogeyed. Dunlap didn’t have a 4-iron in his bag and said he tried to “squeeze more out of the 5 than I probably could.”

On the same hole in regulation, Dunlap had made an 8-foot birdie putt for three points after hitting a downwind 5-iron approach and Parel failed to get up and down for par and victory.

“I think low expectations (helped),” Parel said. “My expectations were just to try to finish and do the best I can.”

2018 Diamond Resorts Invitational, Orlando, Florida - 12/14 January 2018 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Canadian Brooke Henderson (pictured above), 20, a five-time LPGA winner playing from the same tees as the men, finished seventh with 80 points, 13 behind the winner. Henderson made 15 birdies over three days and scored 20 points more than the next best of among four LPGA players, Brittany Lincicome.

Former No. 1-ranked American tennis player Mardy Fish won the 52-man celebrity division for the second time in three years. He finished with 75 points. Next were nine-time NHL all-star Jeremy Roenick at 61 and 2017 winner Mark Mulder with 60.

Mulder was four points back after birdieing Nos. 11-12, but he fell nine behind when he drove into left woods at 13 and double-bogeyed while Fish birdied.

“That was the difference,” Fish said. “A huge momentum swing. Any time you go backwards, you can’t get away with those things.” Mulder also double-bogeyed the par-4 15th.

Modified Stableford scoring awards six points for an eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey and minus two for double bogey or worse. Champions and LPGA players competed for $760,000, the celebrities for $500,000.

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