ORLANDO, Fla. – Second-year PGA Tour Champions player Scott Parel shook off the flu to lead the Professional Division by two points over Scott Dunlap after Friday’s first round of the third annual, 54-hole Diamond Resorts Invitational.
Beware the ailing golfer, latest of countless chapters. Bedridden with the flu until Thursday, Parel made nine birdies at the par-71, 6,675-yard Tranquilo Golf Club in scoring 34 points under the Modified Stableford scoring system. Dunlap made an eagle and six birdies but bogeyed two par 5s. Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen and past Masters champion Larry Mize, 59, were next at 31 points.
Canadian Brooke Henderson, 20, a five-time LPGA winner, was tied for sixth with 28 points in the 32-player pro category after making six birdies against no bogeys. She was 14 points ahead of the next best among the four LPGA players in the field, Brittany Lincicome.
“Left a couple putts dead in the center and just a little bit short,” said Henderson, who won a major championship at age 18. “So hopefully I'll fix that for tomorrow.”
The top of the Celebrity Division leaderboard was crowded with former tennis player Mardy Fish (26), the 2016 winner, and nine-time NHL all-star Jeremy Roenick (25). Former major league all-star pitcher Mark Mulder, the defending champion and co-favorite with Fish, fell back to 21 points after double-bogeying the par-3 18th.
Parel, an amateur until age 31, said the illness and no practice round probably contributed to his playing well because his “expectations were obviously pretty low. ... I couldn’t even tell you the holes or anything.”
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 are competing for $750,000, the 52 celebrities for $500,000 in the event televised nationally by the Golf Channel.