Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

John Parry’s on the road to catching up with Rory McIlroy

When Rory McIlroy won his first Tour title 20 months ago, he bought himself a Ferrari. When John Parry won his first Tour title two weeks ago he bought himself a Vauxhall Astra.

That might best sum up the wildly contrasting paths these two young men have taken since playing together on the 2007 Walker Cup team.

Except the teenager who was forced to trundle along on the scenic route now has golf's most dreamy destination on his Satnav.

Parry is four shots clear at the halfway point of the Dunhill Links Championship, with a victory stroll up the 18th at the Home of Golf tomorrow evening beckoning. Not to mention £503,000. A second success in as many starts for the Yorkshireman would just go to prove that the prediction game is utterly futile on the fairways.

You certainly would have been granted huge odds for Parry prevailing on this hallowed turf before his wunderkind team-mate. On turning pro straight after the defeat to America at Royal County Down, McIlroy took three events to earn his full card, while for Parry his wait was rather longer — three years. He scratched around on the EuroPro Tour, the golfing Rymans League.

“I struggled,” he admitted here yesterday.

“If I did win any money it wasn't very much. I had to pay to enter the events, about £270 a time and didn't have any money at all. No, it wasn't a great feeling knowing you had been on the same team and just six months later they were competing in the top European events.”

As the golfing world was preparing itself for the Ryder Cup, so Parry lifted the Vivendi Cup. The £180,000 prize saw him take the by now traditional trip down to the showrooms. But he walked past the almost compulsory Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Maseratis.

“I bought a Vauxhall Astra with an 09 plate,” he said. “I would have bought something a bit nicer, but I've only just past my test and the insurance companies don't seem to like me at the minute.”

On 12-under Parry is clear of Martin Erlandson in second and a group on seven-under including Martin Kaymer.

While most were surprised to see his name up there, McIlroy merely smiled and shrugged.

“He was good mate of mine in the amateur days and, while it might have taken him a little bit longer to develop than some of the other guys, he's a very, very solid player,” he said after a 74.

“Of that Walker Cup team you would have reckoned he would have been one of the ones who would do very well. And he is now.”

Graeme McDowell leads the Irish charge, sitting sixth, six shots behind Parry with Padraig Harrington a further shot in arrears.

Damien McGrane is next (72 & 69) at three under par, Darren Clarke (76 & 67) one under par, Michael Hoey (72 & 73) at level par, Paul McGinley (74 & 71) one over par, Peter Lawrie (70 & 76) two over par, Shane Lowry (69 & 78) and Simon Thornton (73 & 74) at three over par, and Gary Murphy (73 & 75) and Gareth Maybin (72 & 76) at four over par.

Lee Westwood, meanwhile, is 10 shots back and simply hoping to get through the next two days in as little pain as possible. The Englishman will then take a protracted break to recover completely from the ruptured calf muscle.

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