It started out as simply — The Senior Tour.
It began as a showcase for Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus to give golf a glimpse of its great champions from the 60s and 70s.
The Senior Tour was basically a closed shop. That’s what so many players told me over the years. They wanted the high-profile guys. They wanted Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Floyd — guys like that.
They didn’t want guys like Walt Zembriski, a guy who spent most of his life as a welder but managed to break through the “closed shop” that was the Senior Tour back when.
Fast forward nearly three decades and today you have The Champions Tour — newer name but same deal as it used to be. The PGA Tour has its arms wide open for guys like Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman and, Hale Irwin, who won so many senior events it got ridiculous.
Today we have the modern-day version of Walt Zembriski out there threatening to win this Charles Schwab Cup business.
Scott Parel, however, is no blue-collar welder like Zembriski was.
Parel is an absolute, total Cinderella on this circuit. He’s not really supposed to be out there at the Phoenix Country Club playing alongside Langer, today’s version of Hale Irwin. Langer has won so many events it’s ridiculous, including five wins after he turned 60. That’s simply not supposed to happen. The window for making hay on this older gentleman’s circuit is typically age 50-55. They used to tell you the window would close quickly as you got on the back side of 55, heading to 60.
So what’s with this Parel character.
First of all, he’s the antithesis of the “Champion” in Champions Tour. The guy went to the University of Georgia and didn’t even play college golf there. He studied computer science.
After college he did the logical thing — spent 10 years as a computer programmer.
But this guy didn’t have a mid-life crisis — his crisis came way before the age of 40. He decided to give the old “professional golf” gig a try.
He went the route that guys with no resume go — mini-tours. He tried the old Q-School route. That didn’t work. Mini-tours became his way of life.
The problem with mini-tours is that they are expensive and Parel will tell you that it involved “maxing out the credit cards.” Not financially sound, really, anyone will tell you that. There are more broken dreams on mini-tours than dreams fulfilled.
Parel finally got himself a spot on the Web.com Tour and won there at age 48. That was an amazing feat in and of itself.
He then got into the Champions Q-School, which is the worst Q-School. They hand out so few cards that it’s totally tough to make it. Plus, you have to finish in the top 30 out there every year to stay exempt unless you’re one of the “elite.”
Which brings us back to the non-elite — Parel.
Here’s where the story gets really dream-like. Parel won not once, but twice this season out there. He won the Boeing and Invesco. Both were 54-hole events but he finished second to Langer in the Schwab Cup standings, putting him in a good spot this week at the Country Club of Phoenix.
Even more dream-like is the $1,809,190 he won this season.
No more living off credit cards.
Parel has total street-cred out there now.
He didn’t before. This tour wasn’t set up for guys like him to succeed.
But he did, against all odds.
He’s was head-to-head with Langer on Thursday. One-under par 70 for Langer, 71 for Parel, which left them both staring at the 63 from Paul Goydos.
And now this Schwab Cup business is totally up for grabs.