Parry takes million but Rose blossoms

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The Independent Online

Craig Parry became a million dollars richer yesterday when he finally ended a 15-year wait for his first victory in America.

In his 236th US Tour event the 36-year-old known as "Popeye" claimed a superb four-stroke victory in the NEC World Championship at Sahalee Country Club here.

Britain's Justin Rose could reflect on one of the best performances of his brief, but eventful career, a joint fifth-place finish and a cheque for more than £120,000.

Parry did not drop a stroke in his closing 65 for a 16-under-par total of 268. His fellow Australian Robert Allenby and the American Fred Funk were joint second, with the world No 1 Tiger Woods fourth and failing to become the first player since Gene Sarazen in 1930 to win a tournament on the US Tour four years in a row.

When Rose completed his closing 68 he was lying joint second, but Allenby birdied the last four holes and Funk and Woods birdied the par five 18th to go ahead of him as well.

Parry owed a debut of gratitude to Woods ­ not for anything he did in this event, but for showing up at the New Zealand Open at the start of the year. It was the presence of the Masters and US Open champion which boosted the world ranking points on offer and made it a qualifying event for the world championship. Parry won it.

Seven behind after his opening 72, the former European Tour member never shot worse than 66 after that and took charge with a hat-trick of birdies from the second.

"I had the mindset that I was not going to make any bogeys and birdies were going to make me harder to catch," Parry said. "It's going to give me a lot of confidence knowing that I finished the job off here."

Rose had seven birdies and outscored his illustrious playing partners Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson, but four bogeys cost him his chance of a sensational victory on his world championship debut. The 22-year-old, who had not played a professional tournament in America until last week's USPGA Championship, said: "It was a bit of an adventure, but a really good result. I really hung in there and stayed patient."

Colin Montgomerie must decide on his fitness to play for Europe against the United States in the Ryder Cup next month after pulling out midway through the second round here on Saturday with a recurrence of his long-term back injury.