MELBOURNE: The last time Craig Parry was involved in a playoff, he holed a 160m 6-iron for eagle from the fairway to win on the first extra hole in the Ford Championship at Doral, Florida last March.
Any wonder, then, that his four-hole playoff victory over fellow Australian Nick O'Hern at the Heineken Classic yesterday ending Ernie Els' three-year hold on the tournament seemed a bit tougher.
That was bloody hard work,'' said Parry. Each time, I thought I was going to lose.
Not quite as dramatic, this one, but pretty good just the same.
After Parry made a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth extra hole the 18th O'Hern missed a 10-foot birdie attempt to end the tournament at historic Royal Melbourne.
Parry made par-saving putts on the first three playoff holes the 18th twice and then the 17th while O'Hern helped keep the playoff going by missing birdie putts inside 10 feet on the two opening holes, again the 18th.
I never thought I'd have a chance to win when Nick had those putts from so close, said Parry. But as we all know, some days they just won't go in.
Parry closed with a 1-under 70 to match O'Hern (71) at 14-under 270.
Parry was using a putter that he retired'' for part of last year, but the same one he used to win at Doral and at the 2002 NEC Invitational, his two biggest career wins.
It had a holiday midway through last year, said Parry. It might be in the bag a little bit longer.''
O'Hern, who injured his right knee last year carrying a baby crib, had arthroscopic surgery after the Australian Masters in December. He pulled out of the Caltex Masters last week in Singapore because his knee was still bothering him.
It was very frustrating, said O'Hern, playing his first tournament in six weeks. I hit the shots I wanted to hit in the playoff and made the putts I wanted to make. But the ball wouldn't go into the hole. Craig made his putts when he needed to. All credit to him. I played my heart out today but it just didn't happen.
Els shot a 70 to finish at 12 under, two shots out of the playoff. He had three bogeys on the back nine, including the 18th.
Trailing the leaders by one stroke, Els put his approach on 18 into the gallery, getting a free drop but eventually taking bogey, ending his chances of his fourth straight win.
Scotland's Colin Montgomerie (71) tied for 11th, six shots back. AP