Roller-coaster day for Parks ends in disappointment

HARRIS – She battled the long fescue, sand, and her own frustration. Each time, it seemed like Sadena Parks had the answers to her own problems, on Sunday, at the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club.

Despite finishing second (even-par-216) after missing a heartbreaking putt that would have forced a playoff, the disheartening finish doesn’t diminish the impressive saves Parks was required to make to put herself in position near the top of the leaderboard.

Parks started the day at 3-under-par, but a quick bogey on the par-4 first hole set her back a stroke. However, she managed to rally on the par-4 fourth, by making a 30-foot putt for birdie.

Just as quick as she gained a stroke, she lost it on the next hole, the par-4 fifth, but the bogey she scored on No. 5, might have been one of the most impressive scores she managed to save.

Parks’ drive went into the long deep grass that separates the water and the rough, on the right side of the hole. She took a swing at the ball, but managed to bury it even more underneath the long grass.

“I was in the hazard and I hit the ball not knowing that I was sitting on hay,” Parks said. “It kind of looked firm, and then when I hit the ball, I actually hit down on it. I dug it further into the hay.”

After consulting with her fellow playing partners-Stephanie Na and Lacey Agnew-on what to do next, the group decided it would be best to call a rules official over. The rules official went over it with Parks and granted Parks the ability to pick up her ball and place it in the drop zone, which was further back behind.

“I obviously could not put a club on it, so I asked for the drop zone, and the drop zone happened to be 195 yards out,” Parks said.

Parks dropped, and was laying three, about to hit her fourth shot for par from 195 yards out. With the pin in the front on the top level of the green, Parks took aim at it, and made it look easy, sending the ball onto the green and stopping it seven feet from the hole.

“Lucky a little downwind helped me,” Parks said. “All I was thinking about was getting on the green, and honestly was like, get a two-putt and take this double (bogey) and walk on. But I made that seven-footer and got me a bogey, and I was happy with that. It started pretty nasty, but ended very well.”

Parks’ second birdie of the day came on the par-5 11th, but it didn’t come easy. Her third shot found the bunker on the left side, and the slopes of the bunker created an awkward lie for her. Still, she managed to flop it onto the green, giving her a 10-foot putt for birdie, that she sank.

It looked like the wheels were possibly falling off on the next three holes. She bogeyed the par-3 12th after she three-putted, and bogeyed the par-4 13th. Then, her drive on the par-4 14th went to the right, into the bunker, where she failed to make it out of the sand on her second shot. Nonetheless, she eventually composed herself and got up-and-down from the sand to score a par and stay in a tie for the lead at 1-under-par.

The island green on the par-3 15th is intimidating in its own right, but add in it’s the final round of a tournament, and when the wind is gusting strongly, you have a hole that presents numerous obstacles.

Instead of wilting under the pressure, Parks delivered, again. Putting the ball 12-feet from the hole, giving herself a birdie opportunity, which she sunk to give her the lead at 2-under par.

“I couldn’t have any fear today, I had to give it my all to stay on top,” Parks said. “So I hit a firm 8-iron and the wind was catching and it drifted to the right and I drilled in the birdie putt to save my butt from the last couple holes.”

As soon as it seemed as if Parks was ready to turn the corner and separate herself from the field, it looked like she was going to stumble again. Her drive on the par-4 16th found the bunker on the left side. The ball rested near the top part of the bunker, making for another difficult lie. She wasn’t able to catch the ball clean, hitting it 30-yards short of the green.

Her next shot wasn’t much better, as she caught too much of the ground and the ball didn’t even make the green, resting in the rough, about 20 yards from the pin. At this point, everything bad that happened during the day seemed to add up.

“I’m very frustrated,” Parks said about what she was thinking after leaving her third shot short. “I took a deep breath and I just realized I had to get this close to the hole.”

She did better than just getting it close, she landed it short of the hole, before it rolled into the bottom of the cup. The gallery erupted in cheers and Parks delivered a fist pump in excitement.

“When I practice, I practice with my coach and we always practice those shots of chipping it in,” Parks said. “So I put myself back in the practice mode where I always chip it in and I made sure I saw the line and I dunked it. It was awesome.”

However, Parks wasn’t able to capitalize on the momentum and her mistakes eventually caught up to her. She three-putted for bogey on the par-4 17th, and sent her drive into the water on he par-5 18th, before eventually missing a five-foot put that would have forced the playoff with Aronsson.

Despite that, the second place finish marks the best finish in her career, and she was happy to see her former University of Washington teammate, Molly Aronsson, get the win.

“It was good that she got the win,” Parks said. “Both of us at the top in the hunt was awesome. I’m very proud of her.”