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Craig Parry returns to scene of biggest win

Craig Parry has returned to the scene of his greatest moment in golf, but has no illusions about an encore performance at the $8.5million CA Championship, starting in Miami.

Parry admits he has "no chance" of beating Tiger Woods in the World Golf Championships series event at Doral's Blue Monster course.

"I'm realistic about where my game is," said Parry, one of 10 Australians in the field.

Parry is making his first appearance since winning the Australian Open in December after under-going surgery on his right knee in January.

He has been chipping and putting for the past month, but only last week received permission from his doctor to work on his long game.

"Originally, I was coming over here to run last," he said.

"But I played a lot better today and yesterday, had a few birdies out there. If I play well, there's no reason I can't have a top-10 finish."

Four years ago, Parry played the shot of his life, holing out with a six-iron from 160m at the punishing 18th hole to win a play-off against American Scott Verplank in the former US PGA Tour event.

Many tournament winners are quickly forgotten, but Parry said, during his practice round, several spectators told him they were present that day in 2004.

"I've had a few good shots in my career, like the chip-in at the 1998 Presidents Cup to beat Tiger and Freddy (Couples) at Royal Melbourne, but to hole a six-iron in a play-off was amazing," he said.

This may be Parry's only American appearance this year because he now plays primarily in Japan, where he is very happy, not least because of the relatively easy commute to and from his Sydney home.

Not having to deal with constant jet lag is a big bonus.

"I had 15 years of flying over (the Pacific). That's 150 flights between Sydney and LA. I was just sick of getting jet lag. I've had enough of it."

While Parry is back at a happy hunting ground, compatriot Paul Sheehan is in new territory, making his WGC debut.

"It's a great opportunity to play against the best players in the world," said Sheehan, who also plays mainly in Japan, after one ill-fated season in the US.

Parry, Sheehan and David Smail qualified to play here as the top three finishers on the Australasian Tour money list. Smail, however, is absent.

The Kiwi had promised to take his wife on a cruise to celebrate her 40th birthday and even an $US8 million purse could not persuade him to reschedule the holiday.

Then again, the American dollar is not what it used to be.


March 20, 2008

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