Parker ‘On the Road’ for His Fourth U.S. Open Appearance
By Pete Kowalski, USGA
It’s a good thing Perry Parker has traveled the world playing golf.
On May 16 at Silver Creek Country Club in Hellertown, Pa., about an hour north of Philadelphia, the professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., tried his hand at local qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh.
Due to his globetrotting past, he wasn’t spinning like the globe on a TV travel show opening. In fact, right before he teed off (12:50 p.m. EDT), he appeared energized and ready to take on the usually cold and windy May conditions.
“I just love playing in the U.S. Open,” said Parker, of Laguna Niguel, Calif. “It is one of my favorite tournaments in the world. I turned 51 and I started playing again and I won the Australian Legends Tour qualifying school, so I am exempt again down there. I was here on a corporate outing so I decided to play near where I was for that. That’s why I am here.”
More to the point, Parker was diagnosed with hemophilia at age 10 and his 15-year initiative of motivational speaking to the hemophilia community brought him to Philadelphia as well as U.S. Open local qualifying in the nearby Lehigh Valley.
“I am one of the few pro athletes in the country who has it,” Parker said. “I try to promote physical fitness and golf. I do about 20 junior golf programs for kids with bleeding disorders each year.”
In fact, he and his brother, Corey, who played minor league baseball in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system, co-host a yearly event in Arizona called the Junior National Championship, for youngsters with bleeding disorders and their families.
“I’ve played professional golf for 28 years and have done speaking events for hemophilia for 15 years and that’s been the most rewarding thing I have ever done,” Parker said.
Despite a 7-over-par 78 on Silver Creek’s 6,298-yard layout, which didn’t garner a spot in sectional qualifying, Parker was upbeat.
“I played well,” he said. “I was in control all day but I didn’t make any putts.”
In retrospect, Parker’s far-reaching quest was not so far-reaching given the evidence. He qualified for the U.S. Open in 1992 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., and the 1998 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, in San Francisco.
Parker made the cut in 1997 at Congressional, highlighted by holing out for an eagle on the ninth hole in the second round. In his online biography, he says he will never forget that accomplishment because his family was there to support him.
The tall and lean California native played college golf at the University of California-Irvine and served as an assistant coach for the Anteaters until 1991. He turned pro in 1988 and won five times on the Canadian Tour. He also played on what was previously called the Nike Tour from 1993 through 1997. His pro career has taken him to tours in Asia, Australasia, Canada, Japan and the PGA Tour, as well as many mini-tours in the U.S.
Married with a twin son and daughter, Parker was well versed in the odds when it comes to U.S. Open qualifying. He believes, after considering the question of the number of times he’s tried, the answer is 23.
“I feel good,” Parker said prior to his round. “You have to play well. In Open qualifying, the first stage has gotten a lot tougher over the years. When we used to have to play 36 holes in one day for me that was easier because you had more time. Now it’s an 18-hole deal. I just want to get to the second stage and see what I can do there.”
While Parker didn’t reach his goal this year, you can count on him giving it another go in the near future – with the same passion he gives golf and his hemophilia programs.
Pete Kowalski is the director of Championship Communications for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.