Parker Bell walks off hole No. 18 after making a par 4 during Round 2 of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., Friday, June 14, 2024. (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

UF’s Bell Caps First U.S. Open Trip With Stellar 70, But Misses Cut

PINEHURST, N.C. — I really have nothing to lose.

UF sophomore Parker Bell knew he needed something special Friday to keep his hopes of making the cut in his first career U.S. Open appearance alive after his opening-round 77.

“I might as well try and attack a little bit more than I did today,” a disappointed Bell said Thursday after his round.

That’s exactly what Bell did.

Bell stuck to his word, playing aggressive and loose en route to shooting an even-par 70 on Friday at the challenging Pinehurst No. 2 course. Despite his surge, he barely missed the cut — falling short by just two strokes. At 7-over for the tournament, Bell matched Tiger Woods’ two-round score of 147, and beat out other big names such as Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.

Bell had four birdies Friday, bouncing back after beginning his day nervously with back-to-back bogeys.

UF sophomore golfer Parker Bell:, 20: “I had a lot of fun out there today.” (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

But his surge started off the tee. The amateur once again led the field in driving distance with an average of 359 yards, 47 yards more than the field average for Round 2. 

“Like [UF men’s golf] coach [J.C. Deacon] always says it’s a weapon,” Bell said with a grin. “Being able to turn this course into a wedge-fest, no other guys are doing that.

“I just decided that I am going to use this club to my advantage and try and have as many wedges in as possible.” 

The 20-year-old from Tallahassee knew that he had to switch some things up if he wanted a shot at playing the weekend. 

“I feel like [Thursday] I threw away a lot of shots,” Bell said, after taking time to decipher what changed between Thursday’s 77 and Friday’s 70. “Today, I kind of did the same thing early on. But once I got to hole one on the back nine and I was playing solid to be 1-over on the first nine, I was just like, ‘You know, I’m just going to have fun.’” 

One thing Bell was not lacking is support from his friends and family. Whether it was his cousin, Tank Lawson, on the bag or his parents, siblings and friend cheering from outside the ropes, Bell was certainly feeling the love. 

Parker Bell’s family, including his brother Riley Bell (center) and mother Shelly Bell (left), celebrate after he birdies on hole No. 4 during Round Two of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., Friday, June 14, 2024. (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

“I was getting some Tiger-like roars out here on some made putts” Bell said. “It just means everything that they all decided they wanted to come out.” 

Even Bell’s college golf coach Deacon made it town. 

“I wouldn’t want to play for any other team and to have [Deacon] out here today was awesome,” Bell said. “I’m really glad I got to play a good round of golf in front of him as well.” 

Deacon, who took over as Florida men’s golf coach in 2014, said he couldn’t have been more proud of the way Bell performed today.

“I’m proud of him, he’s earned it,” Deacon said. “A year ago, he wasn’t even close to something like this. Now if you look at this round of 70 today, he beat a lot of the best players in the world straight up.” 

Deacon also reiterated just how important Bell’s driver is to his game.

“He’s really made that a strength, and he’s proud of it,” Deacon stated. “He’s worked on it really hard and he’s got a little fade, he’s working on a low fade so he’s starting to be able to control it, and hit some different shots. Obviously that power sets him apart.”

Deacon expects this to be a great learning opportunity not just for Bell, but also for his UF teammates.

Florida men's golf head coach J.C. Deacon watches Parker Bell during Round 2 of the U.S. Open on Friday.
Florida men’s golf head coach J.C. Deacon watches Parker Bell during Round 2 of the U.S. Open on Friday. (Ashleigh Lucas/WRUF)

“I think it kinda makes it [playing in majors] more obtainable,” Deacon noted. “They see someone who they work out with everyday, who they eat with everyday, practice with everyday playing in this tournament and beating a lot of the best players in the world. That kind of makes them think, ‘If he can do it, I can do it’.” 

One thing is certain, Bell will be leaving Pinehurst with the understanding that he can compete with the cream of the crop.

“I think I have what it takes to play out here,” Bell said. “I feel like if I was sharp in really every area that I could be I could easily be inside the cut line and potentially competing [for the lead].” 

About Alexander Vafeas

Alexander Vafeas is a second-year Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida. When not writing about high school sports for WRUF, Alexander works as a communications intern with the University of Florida Athletic Association.

Check Also

Seeking Best Open Finish Since 2013, UF’s Horschel Hits Speed Bump

PINEHURST, N.C. — Billy Horschel slowed down in Round 3 of the U.S. Open, shooting …