Marquez living his dream at the Phoenix Open

Braxton Marquez watches his drive at No. 9 at TPC Scottsdale.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Somebody tell Arizona State coach Randy Lein that senior Braxton Marquez won’t be making the team’s trip on Saturday to the USC Invitational. He has other plans.

The 22-year-old Marquez fired a 6-under 65 to make the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Playing in front of a boisterous gallery of 300 friends and family, the hometown kid, who earned a spot in the field as a Monday qualifier, struck a 7-iron from 176 yards to 4 feet on 18 and sank the putt to make it on the number.

“I was a little jazzed up,” he said.

It’s been a dream week for Marquez, who feels at home at TPC Scottsdale. As a little boy, he used to roll down the hills, one time screaming in the backswing of Fred Couples. As a teenager, he delivered jugs of water to skyboxes on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes for his father’s catering business. As a freshman at Scottsdale Community College, he worked the range, picking and cleaning the golf balls.

So he described it as surreal to be one of the competitors in the field, picking out some clean Titleist Pro V1s for practice.

“The way I came into this week was, I’m just a local boy with nothing to lose,” Marquez said.

That attitude comes with the perspective of knowing what loss is all about. His father, Randy, died from liver cancer last March, less than two months after his diagnosis. But Marquez said his father was with him on the course, both in spirit and memory. Marquez marks his ball on the putting green with a silver dollar from his dad’s collection. A silversmith carved out the silver and inserted some of his father’s ashes into the coin.

The memories so far have been priceless: a practice round Tuesday with Martin Kaymer, Alvaro Quiros and college teammate Philip Francis; striping a drive down the middle to thunderous applause on his opening tee shot; playing to the crowd at 16 by hoisting his driver with Arizona State’s mascot Sparky above his head; and holding on to his caddie bib overnight so the family could take photos with it.

After shooting an opening-round 74, Marquez thought he needed a 66 to make the cut. He went one better, the lowest score he’s ever shot at TPC Scottsdale. Even Marquez is surprised with his play.

“I’ve been playing terribly,” he said, noting that he hasn’t qualified to play in a college match yet this semester. “My focus today was off the charts. I feel like I belong here.”

Knowing he needed to convert the 4-foot putt at 18 to play the weekend, Marquez placed his ball in front of his father’s silver dollar, took one look at the hole and buried the right-to-left putt.

“I knew I had it all the way,” he said.

Marquez’s dream week continues. Maybe there’s even time to roll down a hill for old time’s sake.

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