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Boles impressive against the best

By Staff
ROLLING n Daniel Boles, a freshman-to-be at MCC, watches a putt roll towards the cup. The Clarkdale grad recently competed in the prestigious Optimist International Junior Golf Championship, finishing 12th overall. Submitted photo
By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Aug. 1, 2001
Getting hit in the head with a baseball isn't always a bad thing, just ask Daniel Boles.
The incoming freshman at Meridian Community College is quietly becoming one of the world's best at a sport he got "knocked" into. During a Little League baseball game seven years ago, young Boles took a vicious pitch to the head.
That event proved to be a "blessing from God" that provoked him to find a new recreational sport to play. That new sport was golf.
At age 12 he picked up his first golf club and began his onslaught of the golfing world.
"After I got hit in the head with the baseball it made me a little hesitant to want to swing a bat again," Boles, the former Clarkdale standout, said. "I started swinging a golf club and everything just came naturally."
Boles recently put his homegrown swing to the ultimate test at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship in West Palm Beach, Fla., at the PGA National Resort and Spa. He had to first qualify locally and then win the Miss./Ala. district qualifier to make it to the championship.
One of only 56 out of 242 golfers to make the cut, Boles posted a final round 75 on a windy day to finish tied for 12th with a three-over par total of 291 (71-76-69-75).
"I was pleased with the way I played all four days," Boles said. "The conditions were tough and the field was playing 10-strokes better than last year so I was real pleased."
Mark Scarborough, the Downtown Optimist Club golf director for the local qualifier, said that Boles' accomplishment is remarkable.
"People should realize that this is a phenomenal thing," Scarborough said. "These are the best young golfers in the world with 15 different countries being represented."
Not your average tournament
If you'rr thinking that this is a cupcake tournament then think again. Here is a list of names of some past competitors in the prestigious tournament: Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Michelle McGann, Ernie Els, Justin Leonard, Nancy Lopez, Phil Mickelson, Nick Price, Corey Pavin, and Craig Stadler.
That's not bad company to be in.
This is the second consecutive year that Boles has won the Miss./Ala. qualifier, advanced to Fla., and made the cut. He finished tied for 14th a year ago.
"I give all the credit to God," Boles said. "He is my strength and focal point when I play. My father and I do a devotion and prayer before I play and that really helps me get focused."
Another local player makes tourney
Clinton Hales, a former standout at Northeast Lauderdale, also made the trip to the championship in Florida by firing a career low final round 67 at the Miss./Ala. qualifier to finish runner up behind Boles. Hales wasn't as fortunate in Florida though, as he suffered through a tough first round and failed to make the cut by shooting 85-74-76 for the three days.
"Just to make it to this tournament is an honor," Hales said, who is also set to lace up the spikes for MCC this fall. "It was very intimidating to experience that type of competition for the first time. That's what makes Daniel's accomplishments the past two years so unbelievable.
"It's unreal to think that he played against some of the best players in the world and finished the way he did. That proves how good he really is."
Boles and Hales have duked it out for the past six years in high school links competition. The young guns will combine forces this fall however as they enter their freshman seasons at MCC.
"I am tickled to death to see both Daniel and Clinton play this well and that they're coming to MCC," MCC golf coach Lou Hart said. "You've gotta love the fact that they're both local boys."
Hales said that he can't wait to team up with Boles at MCC and finally get on the other side of the competition.
"It's going to be good to not have to compete against him any more," Hales said. "We've become pretty good friends and I look forward to teaming up with him."
Boles agreed.
"Clinton's a great player and I'm sure we'll push each other to get better while we're at MCC," Boles said.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star., call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or E-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.