By Hagan Parkman, PGATOUR.COM
ARLINGTON, Texas – Six months ago Chase Parker considered giving up playing professional golf altogether. Following a 6-under 65 Friday at Texas Rangers Golf Club, Parker took the outright 54-hole lead at 19-under par at the Veritex Bank Championship.
Playing in the final pairing with 36-hole leader and native Texan Shawn Stefani, Parker carded seven birdies against one bogey and took a one-stroke lead over Taylor Montgomery. Parker also holds a three-stroke lead over Stefani, a two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner, and defending champion Tyson Alexander, who turned at even par but played his first five holes of the back nine at 6-under par and turned in a second consecutive 5-under 66.
Parker carded a 5-under 30 on the front nine, making birdies on the final three holes and extending his run with another birdie at the par-5 10th. Parker, who turned 31 earlier this month, made his only bogey of the day at the par-4 11th, but rebounded with a birdie at the par-3 12th. The Augusta, Georgia native closed his round with six consecutive pars and secured his second 54-hole lead on the Korn Ferry Tour, and his first since sharing the 54-hole lead at the 2017 The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, where he posted his career-high finish of solo fourth.
“I would not say it’s a familiar feeling because I have not been in this position in quite a while,” Parker said. “A golf tournament is a golf tournament. I’ve been in contention plenty of times over the last couple years at golf tournaments. This one is just a little bigger.”
The University of Kentucky alum turned professional in 2014, playing mostly mini-tours until earning Korn Ferry Tour membership and guaranteed starts via a T14 finish at Final Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament in December of 2016. Parker found immediate success as a rookie, finishing T28, fourth, and T38 in his first three starts. His season spiraled downward thereafter, as Parker missed the cut in 15 of his final 18 starts of 2017.
Parker returned to Final Stage in winter 2017, but left without guaranteed starts for 2018 and fell back to the mini-tours. Medalist honors at one of the 2019 PGA TOUR Canada Q-School sites earned him fully exempt status for the season, but he only made four cuts in 11 starts and was once again relegated to the mini-tours for all of 2020 and 2021.
Prior to trek through the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament last year, Parker considered leaving the game behind but ultimately gave himself another chance. Parker qualified for Final Stage on the number at the Dothan, Alabama site of Second Stage, making a gritty par on his 72nd hole.
“I put basically my entire life into it,” Parker said. “I really felt like I was very close to quitting the game last year and doing something else, and some stuff happened and I was able to get through Q-School. I did not have a very good year last year and just started playing well at the end of the year, got through to Final (Stage) and got status, so I couldn’t hang it up then.”
A T105 finish at Final Stage last November once again left Parker buried on the priority ranking and without guaranteed starts. A sponsor exemption for the second event of the season, The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at the Abaco Club, ended with a T47 finish and allowed Parker to climb the priority ranking via the reshuffle, which took effect two events later.
Parker played the last three Korn Ferry Tour events, making two cuts and posting a T17 at the Lake Charles Championship, his first top-25 since the solo fourth at the 2017 The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club.
“That’s just such a big deal getting one of the first eight,” Parker said of the sponsor exemption. “There are so many different kinds of pressures in golf. Q-School, you got to do it or you’re going home; you’re done for the year. There is pressure to make the cut every week, if you’re on that border. Then there is pressure to win golf tournaments. There are so many different weird kinds of pressures.
“Leading a golf tournament, you’re obviously playing well, so you have some confidence under that pressure as well.”
Final-round pairings will run from 7:05 a.m. through 12:45 p.m. local time off the first tee.
ABOUT KORN FERRY TOUR
Founded (1990), owned and operated by the PGA TOUR, the Korn Ferry Tour identifies and develops those players who are ready to compete and win on golf’s biggest stage. In 2013, the Korn Ferry Tour became The Path to the PGA TOUR with all 50 available PGA TOUR cards coming through the Tour and the season culminating at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. This season marks the 31st year of competition on the Korn Ferry Tour. Three out of four PGA TOUR members are Korn Ferry Tour alumni. Tour alumni have won more than 500 PGA TOUR titles, including 24 major championships and eight PLAYERS Championships. To learn more about the PGA TOUR, the Korn Ferry Tour and to follow the season-long quest for a PGA TOUR card, visit PGATOUR.COM, or follow the Tour on social media via Instagram (@KornFerryTour), Twitter (@KornFerryTour) and Facebook (facebook.com/KornFerryTour).
ABOUT KORN FERRY
Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.
ABOUT VERITEX COMMUNITY BANK
Veritex Community Bank is dedicated to be the best bank in Texas. Veritex takes pride in being a community bank with local decisions. Specializing in business banking, commercial loans, small business lending, treasury management and mortgages. Veritex takes the time to get to know you and your specific needs and provide you the expert banking advice you seek.
What does it mean to be honest-to-goodness banking experts? It means you get exceptional customer service, smart banking choices and the peace of mind that comes with knowing Veritex is invested in you and your community. From over 40 banking centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the greater Houston area, Louisville, KY and surrounding areas as well as a local home mortgage office in Dallas, Veritex is the community bank with a difference because they’re making a difference in the community.
ABOUT ANERA SPORTS, LLC.
Founded in 2018 by the past executive director of the Texas Golf Association and TGA Foundation, Rob Addington, Anera has quickly established a presence in the golf community. Anera provides event management services to some of the top amateur championships in the country and operates the business of several amateur golf associations including the Trans-Miss Golf Association and the Amateur Golf Alliance. Anera also provides consulting services to corporations, clubs and tournaments in the strategic planning, management and implementation of sports related initiatives. Anera has created and managed championships at some of the top ranked clubs in the country and is dedicated to providing a first class experience for all parties. Anera is headquartered in Dallas, TX.