CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. — Parker Bell has come a long way in the last few months.
The rising sophomore at Florida was told he wasn’t qualifying for the Gators last event of the season. Coach J.C. Deacon wanted Parker to work on his game. He had qualified for only one event his freshman season, and the rest of it was a struggle.
“It was definitely very humbling,” Bell said. “But I kind of deserved it. Like I played bad — my spring was really, really disappointing.”
Bell went from being told he couldn’t qualify at the end of his freshman season to earning a spot in the 2023 U.S. Amateur semifinals, where he’ll face Alabama sophomore Nick Dunlap at 2 p.m. ET Saturday. Plenty has changed in the past few months, but it all started with the conversation with Deacon.
U.S. Amateur: Photos from Cherry Hills
“This summer I’ve played in some bigger events and put myself in positions where you’ve just got to step up there and hit it,” Bell said. “You can’t let the nerves get in the way.”
On Friday, Bell knocked off Ben James, the reigning Phil Mickelson Award winner at Virginia as the nation’s top freshman. James is ranked sixth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Dunlap is ninth.
Bell? He’s 534th.
— USGA (@USGA) August 18, 2023
He qualified for one tournament in the fall, and he thought it would be the turning point of his season. However, it was the opposite.
“I was not ready,” Bell said. “Hadn’t played in a lot of big tournaments until then, and my nerves just got the best of me, and I guess ever since then, the rest of the season, it just never really got any better.”
After being told he wasn’t qualifying for Florida’s final tournament in the spring, Bell went to see his swing coach, Jeff Smith, in Tennessee. They worked out the kinks of what was wrong. He watched as the Gators went to Grayhawk Golf Club in Arizona and won the national championship. That only added motivation.
Slowly but surely, Bell started to figure his game out. Although he hasn’t had a dominant summer, he wasn’t deterred.
“I knew I…