AS far as professional golf is concerned, John Parry is still years from reaching his peak. Yet when he tees off at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club this morning he will embark on his fourth European Tour campaign – and is intent on making further progress.
On his return to the main Tour last year, he successfully retained his card by finishing 77nd in the Race to Dubai and he is keen to build on that over the next ten months, starting in the Middle East.
He is hoping to make his first cut of the year among a strong field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship which starts today and he will remain in that part of the world for the Commercialbank Qatar Masters and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
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“I would like to get a top ten over the next few weeks, just to get the year off to a good start and then I will have a solid base to build from,” said Parry. “That would be great. After the five-week break I have had to work on a few things, it would be just nice to get off to a solid start.”
Parry tees off with Francois Calmels and Tyrrell Hatton in Abu Dhabi and is just two groups after Barnard Castle’s Rob Dinwiddie as he embarks on his return to the European Tour scene following a few years on the Challenge Tour.
Hartlepool’s Graeme Storm also begins his year, while Malton & Norton’s Simon Dyson makes his controversial comeback after serving a two-month suspension for the incident at the BMW Masters in October when he failed to add a two-shot penalty to his card.
Parry, a fellow North Yorkshireman, is in no mood to think about other golfers’ preparations, however. Instead he is focused on making an impression on the Race to Dubai as he looks to seal his card for a further year by establishing himself among the best around.
“When I played in the US Open last year it was an incredible experience,” said Parry, who finished tied 28th after four solid rounds at Pennsylvania’s Merion Golf Club.
“It definitely made me realise that that’s where I’d love to play because I had never been to America before.
“Not only that, though, it also made me realise just how much I want to play in the majors – all of them. I have got to play in one and I’d love this to be the year I played in more. That was amazing and it would be amazing to play in The Open, The Masters ... all of them.
“That’s why getting in to the top 50 is so important. I got up to 77th last year, so that was a decent start back on the Tour, but I have my eyes set on breaking in to that top 50 at some stage and then I will be going to the majors.”
Parry does not turn 28 until November, so he knows he has time on his side to make a bigger impression on the Tour scene, having enjoyed the success of winning the Vivendi Trophy back in 2010 before he lost his card a year later.
“I am pretty young in golfing terms,” said the Harrogate Golf Club golfer. “Jamie Donaldson has turned 37 and he has only really kicked on in the last couple of years. That shows you that a golfer doesn’t tend to really reach his peak until later, usually six or seven years older than me.
“It’s unusual for golfers to break on to the scene so young and stay there, unless they are exceptional like Adam Scott, Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. Rory is probably the only one right at the top of the game who is really young.”
In a bid to strengthen his hand on the Tour front, Parry has even changed his management group to Mark Blundell Partners. “It’s just to give me more time to focus on my game and make sure I do get a break when I am taking a break,” he said.
“I have organised myself pretty much throughout my career, now I will be getting somebody else to do those things for me. They will organise my life for me really, from the travelling and booking hotels and flights to sending flowers on Mother’s Day … if I want them to!”
Over the last five weeks since missing the cut at the Hong Kong Open in December, Parry has tried to chill while also dipping in and out of the driving range to work on a few things with his coach, Mark Moore. Now it is time to go for real again.
“I was working on things to improve my technique through the year but the last few weeks have given me an opportunity to spend more time on that side of it,” said Parry.
“I set goals for myself week to week, day to day, and when I do set something then I stick to it. I don’t see any point in going in with a plan and then changing after a few shots if they’re not going well.
“The big thing for me at the minute is I want to use other shots rather than ones I’m comfortable with. If I think I could do with using a fade or a draw then I am going to try to pull them off.
“If it doesn’t work at first I don’t want to just go back to what I’m comfortable with. That’s not the way to improve.”
It is with such a mindset that Parry will be heading up the first fairway in Abu Dhabi today, where it leads him in the months ahead he will soon find out.
NORTHERN HOPES ON TOUR
Attached: Rockliffe Hall Golf Club
Turned pro: 2000
Challenge Tour wins: 2
European Tour wins: 1
Biggest European Tour prize: €666,660
Stroke Average: 72.03
Driving accuracy: 63.61%
Driving Distance (yards): 283.54
Greens in regulation: 68.3%
* Based on 2013
Attached: Malton & Norton Golf Club
Turned pro: 1999
Challenge Tour wins: 0
European Tour wins: 6
Biggest European Tour prize: €540, 440
Stroke Average: 70.98
Driving accuracy: 67.4%
Driving Distance (yards): 283.39
Greens in regulation: 72.97%
* Based on 2013
Attached: Harrogate Golf Club
Turned pro: 2007
Challenge Tour wins: 1
European Tour wins: 1
Biggest European Tour prize: €217, 865
Stroke Average: 71.07
Driving accuracy: 64.94%
Driving Distance (yards): 287.73
Greens in regulation: 68.33%
* Based on 2013
Attached: Barnard Castle Golf Club
Turned pro: 2006
Challenge Tour wins: 3
European Tour wins: 0
Biggest European Tour prize: €113, 588
Stroke Average: 71.74
Driving accuracy: 64.13%
Driving Distance (yards): 276.83
Greens in regulation: 66.29%
* Based on his last Tour season in 2011