Parry works hard to deny O'Hern first Tour victory

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Australia's Craig Parry today admitted he had ridden his luck to defeat compatriot Nick O'Hern in a thrilling play-off in the Heineken Classic.

Australia's Craig Parry today admitted he had ridden his luck to defeat compatriot Nick O'Hern in a thrilling play-off in the Heineken Classic.

Parry birdied the fourth extra hole to claim the £156,000 first prize after the duo had finished tied on 14 under par at Royal Melbourne.

England's Simon Dyson and Australian rookie Jarrod Lyle bogeyed the 72nd hole to miss out on the play-off, Dyson failing to save par from a greenside bunker and Lyle driving into trees.

Defending champion Ernie Els, seeking a record-equalling fourth straight victory, also bogeyed the 18th to finish a shot further back in fifth.

O'Hern, seeking 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 as Parry refused to concede defeat.

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.

"I was out of it, each time I thought I was going to lose.

"I thought Nick was going to hole his putt and he could have ended it on the first hole. I was fortunate and he was unlucky but these are the things you have to do to keep it going."

Parry revealed he was considering not playing this week as his three children returned to school in Sydney.

"I was contemplating not coming, families come first, but my wife Jenny said go off and play," added the 39-year-old, affectionately not as 'Popeye' due to his powerful forearms.

"I've always wanted to win around Royal Melbourne, it's my favourite course in Australia and one of the best layouts in the world.

"This is fantastic, this ranks right up there with all my victories. I came here as a five-year-old and sat on the back of the 18th with my grandparents. I played my first round here when I was 13 and it means a lot."

O'Hern admitted his putting had let him down after 33 putts in the final round.

"If you have that many you are not going to win golf tournaments," said O'Hern, playing his first tournament of the season after minor knee surgery at the end of last year.

"I felt I was putting well but the ball did not seem to want to go in. It was very frustrating, I hit the shots and putts I wanted in the play-off but they just wouldn't drop.

"I played my heart out and it just didn't happen. In the play-off I was nervous as hell but hit some great shots and it just shows all the hard work I have done is paying off.

"If one putt had dropped we would be having a different conversation."

Meanwhile Lyle was in tears after his last-hole bogey ended his chances of a remarkable victory.

The 23-year-old from nearby Shepparton only turned professional late last year and is ranked 889th in the world, but led by one shot with four holes to play.

Tee shots into the trees on the 15th and 18th proved costly but after recovering from leukaemia in 1999, Lyle admitted: "All in all I'm very disappointed I did not make the play-off, but within myself I feel like I am a real champion here.

I am so happy. "This is going to open up doors for me in my career.

I've taken as much out of it as I can and hopefully I can use it down the track in years to come."

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."