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Neil Parasher, a 16-year-old junior-to-be at Albuquerque Academy, signed up two days before the Albuquerque City Men’s Championship began on advice from his friend and teammate Tay Hwang.
Parasher said he’s glad he entered and grateful director David Muttitt saved one of the last two spots for him.
Parasher shot a personal-best 7-under-par 65 to take the lead on Friday in the 79th annual event at Ladera Golf Course. His previous best at Ladera was 4-under.
Parasher said his putting was key during his opening round. He said he wants to stay calm and maintain his groove while at Arroyo del Oso on Saturday morning.
At Ladera, he eagled the par-5 No. 2 to get off to a hot start. He had birdies on hole Nos. 4, 5, 10, 15, 17 and 18.
“I made some pretty big putts,” he said. “My dad has been helping me with my putting, and it helped today.”
Parasher has a three-shot lead, as Ross Sinclair, a fifth-year senior for the University of New Mexico men’s golf team, and Thomas Tyrone are at 4-under.
Parasher said he was unsure if he was going to play in the city tournament for the first time. He knew he wanted to play in a tournament to help his game. Hwang encouraged him to play, and Muttitt got him in.
Meanwhile, Sinclair said of the three courses in the Albuquerque City Championship, Ladera was the one he knew least.
That didn’t seem to bother him too much during his opening-round 68.
Sinclair was bothered that he failed to capitalize on the par-5 No. 17, as he settled for par. But he was hoping to make up for a bogey on No. 15.
“That hole always has my number,” Sinclair said of No. 17. “It’s a pretty easy one. There’s a tree and I always seem to hit it.”
Sinclair, originally from South Africa, was at 2-under through nine holes, but came up big with a birdie on No. 10 and an eagle on the par-5 No. 11.
He said he played with a “fun group,” that helped him elevate his play. Simon Miller, the City defending champion, played in the group, as did New Mexico State sophomore Aidan Thomas, a former St. Pius standout. Both Miller and Thomas shot 2-under.
Matt Van Dyke, an Albuquerque Country Club member, also played in the group.
“There was a lot of chatting and a lot of banter,” Sinclair said with a chuckle. “It’s a good group.”
Tiger Lee also shot 2-under, to sit in fourth with Miller and Thomas.