Golf: Parry works hard to deny O'Hern first Tour victory

CRAIG PARRY rode his luck to defeat his Australian compatriot Nick O'Hern in a thrilling play-off in the Heineken Classic in Melbourne.

Parry hit a birdie on the fourth extra hole to claim the pounds 156,000 first prize after the pair had finished tied on 14-under-par. The Englishman Simon Dyson and Australian rookie Jarrod Lyle both fired bogeys on the 72nd hole to miss out on the play-off, Dyson failing to save par from a greenside bunker and Lyle driving into trees. The defending champion Ernie Els, seeking a record-equalling fourth straight victory in the event, also had a bogey on the 18th to finish a shot further back in fifth.

O'Hern, who was looking for a first European Tour title after 11 top- 10s last season, had the upper hand throughout the play-off but was unable to take his chances. The left-hander missed from seven feet for birdie at the first extra hole after Parry had holed from twice the distance to scramble a par, and then missed a virtually identical putt when the players returned to the 18th for a second time. Switching to the 17th, Parry then had to hole from 10ft to stay alive after a clumsy chip from short of the green. Back on the 18th both players fired their approach to within 10ft of the hole and almost inevitably Parry holed for birdie before O'Hern missed from a few inches closer. "That was bloody hard work," admitted Parry, whose victory ensures he will qualify for the Accenture Match Play later this month.

Dyson's closing 68 was the best of the leading contenders but the 27-year-old from York paid the price for going for one more birdie. "I went for it on the last because I thought I needed it to win," said Dyson, who won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2000. "I was right in between clubs, it was a six and a half iron really, and I tried to cut in a five iron and cut it a bit more than I wanted. But I played great and it's a great confidence boost after two weeks ago when I couldn't hit my hat. It changes everything. I'm over the moon. I always knew I had it in me and I'm really starting to believe I can win a tournament."

In Arizona Phil Mickelson followed up his second-round 60 with a more workmanlike five-under 66 at the Phoenix Open on Saturday to take a four- shot lead over Kevin Na. Mickelson, who equalled the course record on Friday, hit six birdies, offset by a single bogey, to leave him on 14- under 199. World No 1 Vijay Singh moved up the leaderboard with a five- under 66 that left him 10 shots off the lead.

Scores, Digest, page 47

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