The Phoenix Open has been a big part of Braxton Marquez's life.But it wasn’t about the golf -- until now.
The Phoenix Open has been a big part of Braxton Marquez's life.
But it wasn't about the golf -- until now.
The Arizona State University senior played the first round of his first PGA Tour event on Thursday, and he did it in his hometown on the familiar course at the TPC Scottsdale.
The result was a 3-over-par round of 74 for Marquez. The typical PGA professional would not be thrilled with that score. But this wasn't just about the score for Marquez.
"This was everything I dreamed of," Marquez said. "I think I handled it pretty well. I got a lot of support on the first tee, and I striped it right down the middle and then made a par. It was awesome to get that much support."
Marquez was one of four players to qualify for the tournament on Monday in the rain at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale. Call him a surprise qualifier, considering that many of those trying to get in the field have more distinguished careers. Many are former PGA Tour players.
"Golf is a crazy game," Marquez said. "You make a couple of putts and the next thing you know, you're playing in the Phoenix Open."
Marquez has played in big tournaments before, even the U.S. Public Links, but nothing has compared to this event. All those high school tournaments, junior tournaments and college tournaments prepared him for this big week.
Coming to the PGA tournament each year in Scottsdale has been part of the Marquez family life. His father's catering business (Taylor Rae Events) serviced skyboxes at the tournament for years. Braxton and his mother and sister often worked for him.
Braxton's job - for what he says was four or five years - was to pick up and deliver water jugs to skyboxes on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.
Then there was the year he shagged golf balls and washed golf balls on the driving range. All he's had to do this week is hit the balls. No extra work required.
"To walk out there and grab the balls was a little different," Marquez said.
This hasn't been the senior year Braxton Marquez was expecting. He has struggled to make the top five on Arizona State's team, but he's had a lot on his mind. Last March, his father, Randy Marquez, died from liver cancer, passing away two months after being diagnosed with the disease. His mother now runs the catering business.
After spending so much time on the 16th hole, Marquez was excited to play the stadium-like layout. He made par in front of the hometown folks and the ASU crew that always shows up at No. 16.
Having done their homework, the crowd knew who Marquez was, and they made sure he knew he was appreciated.
"I just wanted to hit a good shot there," Marquez said.
He did - and he won't forget it, either.