Hes short and - well, rotund. His clothes are functional but hardly stylish. He slaps a cap on his head, any ol cap, and goes out to play. Haberdashers everywhere shrink back in horror, but this is Craig. He looks like he should be slapping paint on the side of a house, but he makes a living rolling a golf ball at a stick. How can you not love the guy?
He finally won a tournament on the PGA Tour after 10 years of trying. Hes won everywhere else around the globe since coming out of Australia to play this game in 1986 - but not in America. When he finally succeeded, he did so in a monstrous way. He won a World Golf Championship event, the NEC, and he won a million bucks in the process.
Of course, it was completely unexpected. Parry has missed his previous four cuts in the U.S., seven of the last nine if youre counting. Its been this way since he moved back to Australia a couple of years ago. The past two years hes finished 95th and 102nd on the money list since trying to commute halfway around the world from Sydney. He still has a home in the same neighborhood where Tiger Woods lives in greater Orlando, but thats about where the similarity ends. He commutes great distances to make a living, and the commutes have taken a big toll on his results.
Craig wasnt in the top 100 in any of the major categories before last week. He was 104th in driving distance, 134th in driving accuracy, 127th in greens-in-regulation, 111th in putting average you get the picture. But he put it all together for one unbelievable week in Seattle.
It will sink in, obviously, in a couple weeks time, he said. But at the moment, Im just very happy to win. A win is a win. I suppose Im a millionaire now.
Parry had to chuckle about the millionaire mention. This isnt Woods we are talking about with the stratospheric amounts of money he has won. This was Craig Parry, who had won a little more than $4.5 million in America during his career. Then he won another million in one week at the WCG-NEC. The shock was almost too much for Parry to bear.
Im going to get blotto, he said, using the Aussie term for getting inebriated. They might have to carry me off the plane. Im sure the Australian customs wont mind.
Robert Allenby, also as Aussie, had to chuckle. The Parry he knows has won 18 times globally, yet is very, uh, conservative with his financial affairs. Forget the fact that his victories throughout the world have made him fairly wealthy. Forget that his boat, in the words of Allenby, is worth a couple of million dollars. When he stops playing golf, he is going to have 50 cents of the first dollar he made.
Allenby recalled a time in Denver when Parry was on the Internet checking hotel rates and noticed that the room he was staying in could be had $10-15 cheaper the following night.
So he checked himself out on the Internet and then rechecked himself back in, said Allenby. Thats Craig Parry to the tee right there. And he even got the same room.
Allenby, of course, was thrilled that Parry won, as he is certain that every player is. Parry is genuinely nice, without a single prima donna bone in his body. Talking with him is like talking over the back fence with your neighbor. You dont care about how many millions he has made ' hes there to greet you warmly every time he sees you.
Hes picked a great tournament to be his first one, Allenby said of the NEC. I think it will show that hes as good as we all know he is. He was the best player not to win on tour. And now hes broken through. And Im a hundred percent sure theres going to be many more.
That may or may not be correct. Parry has determined that he is going to live for good in Australia, to the possible detriment to his golf game but to the benefit of his three children. After all, hes 37 now, and all that travel cant possibly make for an unbroken string of victories. But hes hit the lottery with this win.
Still, theres no sign of change in Craig Parry. He wont go corporate. No sir, not this man. Come rain, come shine, Mister Pieface remains the next-door neighbor that he always was.
You know what? asked Allenby. It doesnt matter how much money Craig Parry has or how much he has or anything, he will always stay the same.
I know the neighborhood where he grew up and, yeah, hes still the same. Hes still the same Pazza (Allenbys nickname for Parry.) And I guarantee you in the next 10 years, hell still be the same, even if hes won five majors of four of these tournaments, hed still be the same. Hes a true Aussie.