Parry facing tough task to defend title

Craig Parry returns to defend his Ford Championships title after last year’s dramatic play-off victory.

Craig Parry returns to defend his Ford Championships title after last year’s dramatic play-off victory.

And this year the field includes nine of the world’s top 10 players at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Florida.

The last two tournaments here have gone to a play-off, including last season when Parry edged Scott Verplank.

Australian Parry holed a six-iron from 176 yards to card an improbable eagle at the par-four 18th, the Blue Monster’s signature hole, and earn his second PGA Tour victory.

“You know, we’re 12 months later and I’m still ecstatic about what happened last year,” Parry said. “It’s just one of those things, I was at the right place at the right time and happened to hole the shot.”

The only top 10 player not in the field is third-ranked Ernie Els, who is playing in Dubai on the European Tour.

Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods, ranked one and two, both have wins this season, as does number four Phil Mickelson and nine David Toms, who dominated the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last week.

Fifth-ranked Retief Goosen, six Sergio Garcia, seven Adam Scott, eighth-ranked Padraig Harrington and 10th Mike Weir are all in the field at Doral.

“All of the top guys are here, so you want to play well and you want to beat them all,” Singh said. “So my deal this week is go out there and try and beat the field, and if you do that, you’re playing against the top guys.”

Woods said: “You have the top-end players playing, which is great. It’s nice to have a field like this to compete in. We always enjoy it, going against the best, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The first of four consecutive events in Florida, the Ford Championships has had only one back-to-back winner – Ray Floyd in 1980-1981.

And Andy Bean, Floyd and Greg Norman are the only three-time winners here.

The Blue Course is par-72 and plays 7,266 yards and the tournament record of 265 is shared by Norman, who accomplished the feat in 1993, and Jim Furyk in 2000.

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