NORTH Vancouver golf pro Bryn Parry doesn't get to take part in match-play golf tournaments very often but, after besting six opponents in six one-on-one rounds to win the 2013 PGA of Canada Championship last week, he's wishing he could do it more often.
The win came at Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont., and earned Parry a $15,000 purse as well as an exemption into the Canadian Open PGA tour event scheduled for later this month at Oakville's Glen Abbey Golf Club. Last week's tournament was only the third time Parry had ever played a match-play event, the last two coming in 2011 and 2012 at this same tournament.
"It's been a sharp learning curve," he said. "The first time they ran this tournament I lost in the first round. This year I played the same fella that I lost to and I beat him handily and was on my way. I'm learning. I would tell you I like it but we just don't get to do it that often."
The tournament featured the top 64 PGA of Canada professionals - the instructors, head pros, club assistants etc. who teach and play in Canada - competing in their biggest tournament of the season.
Parry, ranked fourth coming into the tournament, won his first four matches to set up a semifinal showdown Friday morning against Brian McCann, the No. 1-ranked player in the tournament.
"We've known each other for a long time, we've played together a bunch," said Parry. "Obviously we like to have a go at each other and see if we can take each other down."
McCann played like a No. 1-seed, shooting a four under, but Parry was even better, notching a scorching score of seven under through 16 holes to win 4&2 (four holes up with two remaining).
That set up a Friday afternoon final against Ontario's Billy Walsh, a player that Parry had been paired with only once before and that was for just one hole. The two met in a playoff at last year's Canada Cup with Parry taking the title with a birdie. On Friday they got to renew the rivalry with similar stakes but a lot more holes to play.
"He's a whale of a player," said Parry. "He hits it far, really great player and fun to be around. We had a great time out there."
The fun included a one-hour rain delay caused by an epic Eastern Ontario storm.
"It was something that B.C. would never see," said Parry. "It was unbelievable. We were in T-shirts on the sixth green, we were in windbreakers on the seventh tee and we were in full battle gear, under umbrellas and hiding under trees watching the greens flood by the time we got to the seventh green. It was unreal - it was like somebody took a bathtub and just turned it upside down."
Play was halted and the players were ushered off the course. When the storm passed there was a lot of work to be done to get everyone - and everything - ready to resume.
"Some of the guys were in robes putting their gear in the dryer to get themselves reset for going back out," said Parry. "The superintendent told us the maintenance crew was done for the day so they were in the shed having some Coors Light. He went in and got them and told them they had to get back out and squeegee greens and rake bunkers. It was a big effort from everyone, it was very impressive how they recovered the course from that amount of water."
With light waning the players weren't given any warm-up time and so both faced down eight-foot par putts on newly soaked greens.
"He came up short and I over-adjusted and hit one by," said Parry. "We both made the one coming back so it ended up being a wash."
The golf, however, picked right back after that little hiccup and Parry and Walsh waged an epic battle down the stretch.
The strategic and intriguing nature of match-play golf came into sharp focus on the 15th hole with Parry one up. Tournament officials had turned what was normally a 360-yard hole into a drivable, 300-yard par four. Both players reached the green in one and Walsh made an easy two putt for birdie. Parry, however, overshot his first putt and ended up 25 feet away in a collection area off the green. With 10 feet of fringe to go through before even getting back on the green, Parry pulled out his putter again and took his best shot.
"I got it online, hit it hard and got lucky," he said. It was a crucial make. "It kept me one up and forced Billy to try to attack and make another birdie. If I had missed that we would have been tied and he'd have the momentum and who knows where it goes from there. Golf gave me one right there and I took advantage of it."
Parry took it home from there for a 2&1 win. The 41-year-old CPGA teaching professional at North Vancouver's Seymour Creek Golf Centre will now set his sights on what will be his third ever PGA event, the 2013 Canadian Open. He hasn't tasted the big tour since teeing it up in 2007's Canadian Open held at Angus Glen.
"I'm totally pumped - that's going to be the highlight of the year," he said. "It wasn't on the schedule until Friday when I won the tournament and now I'll focus on it for three weeks, get prepared and go out there and enjoy the week."
Parry has lived in the Lower Mainland for most of his life and the past 13 years in North Vancouver, earning a busy living as a teaching pro at Seymour Creek - they have no actual course but make use of a massive driving range and training centre.
"I love it," he said. "My dad was a school principal and teacher, my mom was a teacher. I was a ski instructor from when I was 16-21. I think it kind of comes naturally to us to try to share ideas and help people get better at sports."
That being said, however, Parry certainly wouldn't turn down the opportunity to play PGA golf full time if by some chance he happened to win the Canadian Open. Anyone who wins a sanctioned PGA event gets a two-year exemption on tour.
"If we're going to go for an all-in scenario then yeah," he said with a laugh. "If I won a PGA tour event I probably would be happy to take on the rest of the opportunities to play out the season and be a member for a couple of years."
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