Big Play Craig Parry's razor-sharp focus produced three straight birdies and led to a resounding victory at the NEC Invitational

September 01, 2002

For the second week in a row, Tiger Woods got dusted on Sunday,
but instead of harping on his shortcomings, I think we should
celebrate the victor. As gutsy as Rich Beem's play was two weeks
ago at the PGA Championship, Craig Parry's march to victory on
Sunday at the NEC Invitational may have been more impressive.
Parry won by five strokes thanks to a dazzling, bogey-free 65
that left Woods and 76 of the world's other best players
breathing fumes.

PARRY'S THRUST A fearless attitude and a focused preshot routine
keyed Parry's first triumph in 13 years on the PGA Tour. Playing
one of the tightest courses in golf, Sahalee Country Club, Parry
began the final round tied for the lead with Robert Allenby, two
shots ahead of Woods. Was Parry worried? "Not at all," said
Parry, who reeled off three straight early birdies--including a
kick-in 3 after stiffing a nine-iron (above) at the 386-yard 4th
hole--to open a two-shot lead that he never relinquished. Parry's
preshot routine was perfectly suited for Sahalee's claustrophobic
fairways. Rather than aiming at a general area, Parry honed in on
a specific target and focused on that target throughout the
routine, which helped keep his mind off the dense woods and
abundant water hazards.

BYE, BYE BUTCHIE A lack of teaching acumen isn't the likely
reason that Butch Harmon is getting the cold shoulder from Tiger
Woods, his star pupil since 1994, because Harmon is brilliant.
The problem is that Harmon has breached one of the Tour's
unwritten rules: Nobody working for a star player should become
as famous as the player. Lately, Harmon has become ubiquitous,
appearing on infomercials, writing books, making videos and
doing interviews. He even does commentary for Sky TV.

SAVING FACE Nancy Lopez's solid debut as an analyst on last
week's Golf Channel telecast of the Betsy King Classic could be
a boon for the LPGA. Lopez hasn't won on tour since 1997, but
she's still the LPGA's most famous and beloved personality.
Having Lopez develop a strong presence in the TV booth (she
hopes to work five to 10 events in 2003) could inspire sponsors,
networks and fans to revive their sagging interest in the LPGA
and help the tour achieve a more prominent position in golf.

Dana Rader is the director of golf at the Golf Club at
Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte and one of Golf Magazine's Top
100 teachers.

THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS (TOP) THREE COLOR PHOTOS: PORTER BINKS (3)

THE TIP

A good pre-shot routine, like Craig Parry's, is a foundation for
success. No two players will have the same preshot rituals, but a
few basic elements should be in every golfer's routine.

--Select a specific target, such as a branch, a chimney or a fence
post. Don't simply aim down the fairway or at the green.

--Focus on that target. Parry spends at least 80% of his
routine looking at his target.

--Align yourself on the body line, not the ball (or target) line.
Doing the latter usually leads to a stance that's too closed or
too open.

Here's a step-by-step description of how to properly align
yourself. Throughout the routine, be sure to focus your eyes
mostly on the target, not on the ball. (In the facing pictures
the yellow lines on the left represent the ball line, and the
lines on the right the body line.)

1. Stand about five feet behind the ball on the target line.
2. Step a couple of feet to your left, onto the body line.
3. Walk down the body line to the ball, square up, grip the club
and take your stance. Now you're ready to swing.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)