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Patience pays off for Parry

Australian Craig Parry's win at the WGC NEC Invitational, his first on the PGA Tour, was 10-plus years in the making.

Granted he has 19 international wins under his belt, but until a player wins on the PGA Tour for some reason there is a perception that he has not completely made it.

Fellow Aussie and good friend Robert Allenby knew that eventually Parry's time would come.

"I've known Pazza for a long time and he's a fighter," Allenby said. "And with all the setbacks and all the times guys have made some putts and beaten him over here, it was only a matter of time that he came through with the goods."

Parry led the 1992 Masters by three strokes after 56 holes only to lose to Fred Couples. Three years later at the Colonial National Invitation, Tom Lehman closed birdie-birdie to win by a shot. A year later, Phil Mickelson chipped in for eagle at the 70th hole and defeated Parry by a couple of strokes.

"He's always been there," Allenby said. "And winning is confidence. You've got to have the confidence and belief within yourself to hit the right shots at the right time and make the right putts at the right time. Pressure is a hard thing. Standing over the hole with a 3- or 4- or 5-footer to win a tournament or coming down the stretch, sometimes you've got to grit your teeth and really dig deep."

On Sunday, Parry began the final round tied with Allenby at 10-under- par. Parry birdied three of the first four holes, Allenby was even and Fred Funk was one-under in an attempt to keep pace.

The par-4 12th, though, may have sealed Parry's win, as he made par, Funk made bogey and Allenby made double bogey. For Parry, par was just fine. In fact, he didn't make a bogey in the final 48 holes.

Parry can point back to the previous Sunday as possibly being a turning point.

"I was getting frustrated out on the golf course, about making bogeys," he said. "I felt as though I had to hit it to a foot to make a birdie, because I wasn't holing any putts. The momentum, the pressure was building up. I sat down with my brother, who is caddying for me, and Jim from Spalding. And Jimmy is like a brother to both of us. And we went out and he followed us, and he said, 'We'll come here and play golf.' And I really didn't hit too many balls other than warming up this week. And I missed the cut last week [at the PGA], and I arrived here on Sunday morning and I played in the afternoon by myself. There was no one out there. So I actually had plenty of time to get to know the golf course again."

He obviously came to know it quite well. Parry finished inside the top 10 in a couple of key statistics: Scrambling (first/78.6 percent), Sand Saves (tied for first/4 for 4), Greens in Regulation (tied for third/80.6 percent), Birdie Average (tied for fourth/5.00) and Ball Striking (10th).

On Sunday, Parry did his best to keep his mindset on the present -- not too far, not too far ahead. But he also drew upon past misses.

"I've been knocking on the door for 10 or 12 years, even longer playing events in America," he said. "And just really not being able to finish it. And today I probably used a lot of experience, a lot of the setbacks over my career, especially in America. And I played really well. I stuck to my game plan as far as playing the golf course. And I hit the ball pretty good."

Good enough to win and quell any misconceptions there might have been about Parry.

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