Date: December 18, 2007
Author: Jason Avedissian at The Australian, Sportal

Popeye thrilled to end Open drought

Popular veteran golfer Craig Parry has finally claimed the one Australian event which always eluded him since he turned professional in 1985, the MFS Australian Open. The 41-year-old stayed strong in a tense closing to the tournament at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney to win by a shot from Nick O&aposHern, Won Joon Lee and American Brandt Snedeker. Parry closed the title, his 23rd career victory, with a final round three-under-par 69, to finish 11-under-par for the week. The victory means Parry has now won all three major Australian titles, having previously claimed the Australian Masters (1992-94-96) and Australian PGA (1992). He also pocketed $315,000 to finish the domestic season on top of the Australian Order of Merit. “It&aposs the one I have always wanted and I&aposve got it,” Parry said as he clutched the Stonehaven Cup. “I have been close quite a few times, lost a play-off, third about eight times and I never thought I&aposd get here.” “The only thing that could make my career would be to win a major, winning the Australian Open has been a long time dream of mine over many, many years.” “I was the leading amateur in 1984 and stood on the green when Tom Watson won.” “I was only 17 years of age and thought that&aposs what I want to do, I want to be the best.” Parry did come close to winning the Open in 1990 when he lost in a play-off to American John Morse, ironically at the same course. His success at the Australian Golf Club stretches back to 1987 when he won the NSW Open, his second win as a professional. “I love playing this golf course,” Parry said. “It was a nervous six-metre par putt at the 17th which all but secured Parry the title played in driving rain. “I really did think that was for the tournament,” he said. “That was probably the best putt I&aposve had under pressure. It was an amazing putt … the crowd was going crazy and I was trying not to get too excited.” It was Parry&aposs first tournament win since the 2005 Heineken Classic. “This is the best one ever,” he said. “It&aposs very special, to win it in front of family and friends.” Parry&aposs win prevented what appeared certain to be a four-way play-off after Snedeker and O&aposHern birdied the final hole to join Lee at 10-under-par. Lee shredded the back nine midway through the afternoon, shooting a six-under-par 66, closing the tournament with four birdies over the last five holes. “I&aposll take the positives from this week and try and play as well as I can for the rest of my career,” the 22-year-old Sydneysider, who changed his putter overnight on the advice of his mother, said. Tournament executive chairman Paul McNamee said the Open was a success with Sunday drawing 11,221 spectators through the turnstiles despite the gloomy weather and the corresponding one-day cricket international between Australia and New Zealand at the neighbouring Sydney Cricket Ground. “It&aposs a very good crowd with the one-dayer on,” McNamee said. “It&aposs (the total of 11,221) more than last year, which is fantastic.”