Calm and cool Parkhill leads Twin City Championship

Calm and cool Parkhill leads Twin City Championship

URBANA — Clayton Parkhill has always been an honest, forthcoming young man. So when the five-time Twin City champion tells you at most he plays golf once a week, you take his word for it.

But when he goes out and tears up the course at Urbana Country Club with a 6-under-par 66 on Saturday during the opening round of his first appearance in the Twin City since winning it in 2011, you kind of wonder if he’s being truthful.

“It’s just going out there now and having fun, no pressure and enjoying myself,” the 26-year-old said.

That wasn’t always the case. A star at Champaign Central who played four years for Mike Small at Illinois, Parkhill used to carry lofty expectations to the course along with his bag.

But with his college golf career behind him, it’s all about having fun. So when he 3-putts for par on the opening hole like he did Saturday, there aren’t any scowls or four-letter words whispered under his breath.

“It used to be a job, and if I didn’t perform that meant I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing,” Parkhill said. “I just go out there and hit the little white ball and see where it goes and then hit it again.”

This new approach, Parkhill said, has helped his game and his psyche.

“I didn’t feel anything mentally. I’m not mentally tired,” said Park-hill, who works in sales and marketing for the Libman Co. in Arcola. “I feel great because I just kept hitting it and having fun.”

The result of having fun is a 4-shot lead over Isaac Overman entering today’s round at Lincolnshire Fields Country Club.

Saturday’s top 30 scorers will play 18 holes, and then the top 12 players after that will play 18 more holes later in the day to determine a champion.

Last year’s champion, CG Facer, didn’t have the day he was hoping for opening with a 75, but the sophomore-to-be at BYU enjoyed playing in a group with a five-time champion.

“It was fun to play with him,” Facer said of Parkhill. “I wish I could only play three, four times a month and hit the ball like he does.”

Facer, an Urbana graduate, said he’ll attempt to walk on to the Cougars’ golf team this fall. He picked up a thing or two from Parkhill to help his own game.

“Eat more,” Facer joked. “But, seriously, he hits the ball a mile. And he really does a great job of keeping the whole golf course in front of him.”

A good showing for 36 holes today on his home course at Lincolnshire Fields could place Parkhill alone atop the all-time Twin City list with six victories. He’s currently tied with Cy Vaughn and Bill Richart for the most wins. That’s not on his mind, though.

“It is what it is,” Parkhill said. “I’m not thinking about it and putting pressure on myself because there are hopefully more opportunities in the future to do it if it doesn’t happen this time.”

Day one's three stars
While Clayton Parkhill's performance led the way, other tournament participants turned in noteworthy performances as well:

Isaac Overman
The senior-to-be at Centennial was one of only two players to shoot below par and enters today’s round 4 shots off the lead.

Tom Parkhill
Participating in the super-senior division (65 and older), the 1981 Twin City champion fired an opening-round 76, 10 shots behind his great-nephew, Clayton Parkhill.

Jay Scott
Playing with four-time champion Tim Hoss Jr., the former Illini matched Hoss with a 74 on Saturday and is in a position to be a factor late on Sunday like he was last year.