Nick O’Hern knows plenty about close calls. Last year, O’Hern had six top 5s – including three consecutive tournaments – yet didn’t manage a single PGA European Tour victory.
O’Hern’s penchant for near-misses continued in his home country Feb. 6. He lasted to the fourth hole of a playoff with Craig Parry in the Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne, but had to settle for second when Parry made a 12-foot birdie putt and O’Hern missed from 10 feet at No. 18.
Parry made par-saving putts on the first three playoff holes – the 18th twice and then the 17th – while his fellow Australian kept the playoff going by missing birdie putts inside 10 feet on the first two playoff holes.
“I never thought I’d have a chance to win when Nick had those putts from so close,” said Parry, who finished with 70 to match O’Hern (71) at 14-under 270. “But as we all know, some days they just won’t go in.”
O’Hern gave credit to Parry afterward, but couldn’t hide his own disappointment.
“Craig made his putts when he needed to,” O’Hern said. “All credit to him. I played my heart out today but it just didn’t happen.
“It was very frustrating. I hit the shots I wanted to hit in the playoff and made the putts I wanted to make. But the ball wouldn’t go into the hole.”
Parry won for the first time since the PGA Tour’s Ford Championship in March 2004 and snapped Ernie Els’ three-year winning streak at the Heineken Classic. Els bogeyed three holes on the back nine – including the 18th – to finish two shots out of the playoff. Els shot a final-round 70 to finish fifth at 12 under.
The last time Parry was involved in a playoff, he holed a 6-iron from 176 yards for eagle on the first playoff hole at the Ford Championship. This one relied less on luck and more on Parry’s putts with the tournament on the line.
– Staff and wire reports