Navarro pur­su­ing his links dream

David­sonville na­tive will play on Mi­nor League Tour

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By John P. Evans III

For­mer Univer­sity of Mary­land team­mates Chris Navarro and Justin Feld­man com­bined to win their first tour­na­ment as team­mates on the Mi­nor League Golf Tour, which op­er­ates in the Palm Beach area of Florida.

Their win came in the tour’s Hol­i­day Team Cham­pi­onship held Dec. 12. The event was short­ened by rain but was ruled of­fi­cial since nine holes had been com­pleted.

The duo’s 10-un­der score of 46 was the best in the field by a stroke, earn­ing them the vic­tory and a win­ner’s check of $700 each.

It was just the sev­enth event for Navarro, who hails from David­sonville and at­tended Arch­bishop Spald­ing be­fore later com­pet­ing for the Ter­rap­ins’ golf team.

The duo later placed 14th in the sea­so­nend­ing par-3 tour­na­ment, giv­ing Navarro first-year earn­ings of $715.63.

“I just started in Oc­to­ber, so I still do not have much ex­pe­ri­ence, but win­ning a check is a big morale booster,” said Navarro, who came to com­pete on the Mi­nor League tour at the urg­ing of Feld­man and a cou­ple other for­mer Mary­land team­mates.

“They told me about how much fun the tour was and how there were as many as three events a week, and [they] talked me into giv­ing it a try. I just ar­rived [from home in David­sonville on Fri­day] to start the 2020 sea­son.”

The 2020 sea­son — the Mi­nor League Tour’s 17th — be­gan Jan. 2. Navarro did not com­pete in the tour­na­ment.

While at Spald­ing, Navarro won three MIAA in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onships and helped an­chor the 2014 and 2015 MIAA team cham­pi­ons. One of his team­mates on those teams was the cur­rent Long Drive Tour Cham­pion, Kyle Berk­shire.

“He’s re­ally stolen the show,” Navarro said of his for­mer high school team­mate who won the 2019 Long Drive cham­pi­onship in only his sec­ond year on that tour.

“We had four guys on that (Spald­ing) team that went on to play D-I golf.”

Af­ter high school, Navarro at­tended Mary­land, where he played on the golf team for three sea­sons. Navarro’s ca­reer at Mary­land, in his own words, was “well be­low my ex­pec­ta­tions.”

“I didn’t play well at all,” he said. “I strug­gled. It never clicked for me. I was in a slump the whole time I played there.

“I loved my team­mates and my coach, and I had a cou­ple good tour­na­ments, but I never played up to the level I know I can play.”

In 2019, the 22-year-old Navarro did not com­pete with the Terps while he tried to fine-tune his game. He hadn’t made up his mind on what he wanted to do next. He just knew it had to in­volve play­ing com­pet­i­tive golf.

He “turned pro­fes­sional” in Oc­to­ber and be­gan play­ing for purses on the Mi­nor League Golf Tour­na­ment, with a spot on the PGA Tour his ul­ti­mate goal.

“My dream has al­ways been to play golf on the [PGA] pro tour, so my plan is to start here,” Navarro said, not­ing that his fi­nan­cial back­ing is mostly from money he has saved with some sup­port from his par­ents.

“Look­ing back, I had a very dis­ap­point­ing ca­reer at Mary­land,” he said. “I went from be­ing suc­cess­ful in high school to play­ing badly in col­lege, [and] I got mad.

“The fact was that I didn’t play well when it mat­tered. And when I didn’t im­prove, I got mad­der. Now, my game is go­ing pretty well.

“Win­ning def­i­nitely helps get the con­fi­dence up. The key is to play con­sis­tently. If I play like I know I can play. I can com­pete.”

There are ad­di­tional parts of Navarro’s Plan A — cur­rently there is no Plan B that does not in­clude golf, he said.

Navarro has moved full time to Palm Beach and is based out of TPC Saw­grass, where he has a lot of friends also chas­ing their dream. He has hired a swing coach,

Todd An­der­son, and is work­ing on the weak­est part of his game — his putting.

Navarro plans to play in as many Mi­nor League Golf Tour events as he can and, if he is play­ing well enough, he will at­tend the Cana­dian PGA Q School, where he hopes to qual­ify for his Cana­dian PGA Card. Hav­ing that would al­low him to com­pete in the pre­mier events in Canada.

Navarro’s next move would be to com­pete on the more com­pet­i­tive Korn Ferry Tour — an­other PGA-sanc­tioned “mi­nor league” tour — to hone his game fur­ther. And af­ter that?

“I plan to 100 per­cent go af­ter my PGA Tour card even­tu­ally,” Navarro con­firmed, in­sist­ing there is no time frame. “We will see how it goes.

“If I can com­pete — I think I can — it will give me en­cour­age­ment. If I get to the point where I see guys who have suc­cess whom I have played with and com­peted with in the past, [that’ll be ben­e­fi­cial to me].”

As to how long he’ll pur­sue his dream, Navarro said there is no def­i­nite timetable.

“I’ll make the de­ci­sion based on how I progress, but I need to give it the time,” he said. “I need know for sure.

“It’s early. I’m happy with the de­ci­sion and look­ing for­ward to the next step.”

The Mi­nor League Golf Tour was founded in 2004 by Scott Turner. The ma­jor­ity of the tour­na­ments are held in south Florida from Jupiter to Mi­ami.

More can be found out about the tour by ac­cess­ing its web site at www.mi­nor­league­golf.com.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

David­sonville na­tive Chris Navarro, an Arch­bishop Spald­ing grad and a for­mer Mary­land golfer, is now on the Mi­nor League Golf Tour, which is based in Florida.

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