Monday 18 December 2017

Parry poised to stun links field

Englishman leaves Ryder stars in the shade at Dunhill

England's John Parry would be the first to say that Walker Cup team-mate Rory McIlroy left him for dead when both turned professional three years ago.

But by tomorrow night Parry might well be the one with more European Tour victories to his name.

The little-known 23-year-old from Harrogate led the Dunhill Links Championship by four shots going into his third round at Carnoustie today.

And this against a field which contains no fewer than nine members of the victorious European Ryder Cup side at Celtic Manor on Monday.

That match has dominated the golf headlines in recent weeks that many people might not have noticed that Parry won the Vivendi Trophy in Paris a fortnight ago.

The Tour rookie had never had a top-eight finish prior to that, but it earned him almost £170,000 and now a first prize of more than £502,000 is in his sights after opening rounds of 67 at Kingsbarns and 65 at St Andrews.

They are riches indeed for a player who failed to make it through the qualifying school at his first three attempts and had to ply his trade on the 'third division' EuroPro Tour.

There was little money in that for him, but he made it up to the Challenge Tour and this week 12 months ago grabbed a place on the main circuit by winning in Toulouse with a closing 63.

His most recent success prompted him to go out and buy a car -- not a luxury sports model, but a Vauxhall Astra.

"I would have bought something a bit nicer, but I've only just learnt to drive, so the insurance companies don't seem to like me at the minute -- and my parking's not very good," he said.

Parry had to win in Paris just to earn a spot in this week's celebrity pro-am tournament, but so far, at least, he is having a dream week.

Going best of the Ryder Cup contingent at halfway were Ross Fisher and Martin Kaymer, five strokes back in joint third spot with big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. Swede Martin Erlandsson is one ahead of them.

Monday's Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell has six strokes to make up and Pádraig Harrington seven, but Lee Westwood -- unlikely now to go to world No1 tomorrow -- has 10 shots to make up, and McIlroy a massive 13.

The 21-year-old McIlroy's first task is to climb from 65th into the top 60 who go through tonight to the final round at St Andrews.


Harrington, meanwhile, will be travelling to Malaysia tomorrow night to compete in next week's Iskandar Johor Open and, while there, he will inspect a former palm oil plantation outside of Kuala Lumpur that will be the site of his first signature design golf course.

Harrington was expected to play next week in the Portugal Masters, an event where he finished third last year behind Ryder Cup-winning colleague Lee Westwood. Instead, he is joining European Ryder Cup team captain Colin Montgomerie and South African Retief Goosen in travelling to Malaysia.

Harrington is no stranger to Malaysia, having contested eight Maybank Malaysian Open titles from 1999 to 2006, and finishing runner-up in both 2000 and 2001. And while Harrington is looking forward to a first journey to Malaysia in four years, he's also thrilled at the thought of leaving his "fingerprint" with the creation of his first 18-hole designed course.

"It has not been officially announced nor does the course I'm designing have a name, but it's just outside KL, (a place) that has some great golf courses and where I've played in many Malaysian Opens," he said.

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