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Notes Appearance By Tiger Helped Parry

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- When Tiger Woods decided to play in the New Zealand Open two years ago as a favor to his caddie, it set off a bizarre chain of events that changed the course of Craig Parry's career.

It came at a time when Parry was giving serious thought to abandoning the PGA Tour. He had finished outside the top 100 on the money list for the first time in his career, and was leaning toward playing the Japanese and Australasian tours so he could spend more time with his three kids in Australia.
His victory in the '02 New Zealand came with a perk that Parry didn't even know about.
Because Woods -- No. 1 in the world -- was in the field, the tournament received enough world ranking points that the winner became eligible for the NEC Invitational in Sahalee.
Parry arrived in Seattle still uncertain about his future when he ran into Scott Verplank at a restaurant.
I was having a beer with him and he told me that this was the last tournament he was playing over here,'' Verplank said. And he was serious. I said, 'Well, what are you going to do, just go retire?' He said, 'Well, I'll just play a few in Australia. I'm tired of traveling.'''
Parry won the World Golf Championship event, his first PGA Tour victory in 235 starts. Along with $1 million, he was exempt on the PGA Tour for three more years.
Funny how that all works out,'' Parry said Tuesday.
Even more bizarre was that Verplank was his victim at Doral last week when Parry won by holing a 6-iron from 176 yards for eagle on the 18th hole in a playoff.
Only 18 months ago, Verplank was listening to Parry talk about quitting the PGA Tour.
I keep asking him when's going to retire,'' Verplank said.
Not many will forget Craig Parry holing out from 176 yards to win Doral in a playoff.
Not many remember Lew Worsham.
After digging through some history books, James Cramer at the PGA Tour found the last time a player ended a tournament by holing out a full shot for eagle.
Worsham came to the final hole of the 1953 World Championship at Tam O'Shanter Country Club needing a birdie to force a playoff with Chandler Harper. His wedge from 121 yards landed on the front of the green and rolled some 60 feet into the cup for a one-shot victory.
According to The History of the PGA Tour'' by Al Barkow, it was the first time golf was on live television. The U.S. Open was televised the following year, and the Masters went on the air in 1955.
LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw sees the glass as half-full.
Votaw gets criticized for not having a Florida swing and a schedule that does not begin until March, when the PGA Tour already has held 10 tournaments.
But Votaw sees strength in numbers -- seven out of the top 10 players (and 23 out of 30) at every tournament last year, gradual purse increases, and every title sponsor returning for the 2004 schedule.
That's only the second in my 14 years with the LPGA that's happened, and my guess would be it's only the second time in history,'' Votaw said. That says to me that the quality of the schedule and the delivery of quality fields confirms what our mission is -- to present the best of women's pro golf.''
Votaw is still looking at starting the season earlier in Florida, but he doesn't want to throw in a tournament that might only last one year.
We're not going to add an event just to add an event,'' he said. We're going to put events in markets, when and if they present themselves, that provide sustainability and regularity.''
Plus, the LPGA has one thing the PGA doesn't -- a real off-season.
Ernie Els was too rusty for too long to make a serious run at Dubai, where he wound up in a tie for third. Still, the Big Easy had no regrets about his decision to pass on a 27-hour flight to California for the Match Play Championship.
Last year, Els went from Hawaii to Singapore to Thailand to Australia to California to Dubai to Florida, with only three weeks off in between, and believes he was fatigued when he got to the Masters.
Plus, he injured his hand on a punching bag during one of those rare weeks off.
I'll be ready this year,'' Els said. You've got to learn from your mistakes, and I think I have learned. I haven't hit a punching bag since.
You've got to grow up and be ready, and that's what I'm trying to do.''
Els was coming off a three-week break. He'll play next week at Bay Hill, followed by The Players Championship and then another week off before getting to Augusta National.
My schedule this year has been a little more quiet,'' he said. My run-in (to the Masters) is more prepared than it's ever been.''
DIVOTS : Royal Troon is adding 96 yards for the British Open. The links will measure 7,175 and will continue to play as a par 71. The biggest change will be No. 11, where a new tee has been built 27 yards back and closer to the railway. The hole will be 490 yards. ... Through nine tournaments this year, John Daly at the Buick Invitational is the only PGA Tour winner who did not shoot par or better in every round. ... CBS Sports will broadcast 13 PGA Tour events in high definition television starting with the MCI Heritage the week after the Masters. The network will again broadcast the Masters in HDTV.
STAT OF THE WEEK : Laura Davies has won at least one tournament every year since she turned pro in 1985. The Australian Women's Open was her 66th victory worldwide.
FINAL WORD : It's really a racing car. You'd never get out of first gear. You'd never fit the clubs in the back, either.'' -- Craig Parry, on the Ford GT sports car he got by winning at Doral.
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