When a tournament has only been held 18 times, and one guy has won seven titles, wins by anybody else can, perhaps, feel a bit hard to come by. Such was players’ prevailing attitude when Tiger Woods was winning World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitationals at what was a remarkable pace.
Consider that Woods won the inaugural tournament in 1999, successfully defending his title in 2000 and again in 2001. After a three-year break, Woods was back at it, starting a new streak of three consecutive wins, beginning in 2006. Woods’ most-recent title came in 2009. No other player has won so many as two tournaments. But among the 10 players who have won when Woods wasn’t raising the Gary Player Cup above his head are a pair of Australians—Adam Scott in 2011 and Craig Parry in 2002.
Parry has a place in history because not only did he dethrone Woods in 2002, but he did it somewhere other than Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, the course that has hosted 16 of the 17 tournaments.
In 2002—the only time in history—some place other than Firestone was the site of the event as the tournament moved to just outside Seattle, Washington, to the suburb of Sammamish. That is where Parry, a Victoria native, won one of the most significant titles of his career, taking a four-shot victory over Australian Robert Allenby and American Fred Funk. Woods, in his quest for four consecutive wins, played well, but it wasn’t enough. He finished fourth, five behind Parry.
“It’s been a long time. I’ve been knocking on the door for 10 or 12 years, even longer, playing events in America and just really not being able to finish it,” Parry said immediately after his title, noting how gratifying it was to win the tournament the way he did, with Woods chasing a fourth consecutive title. “Look, Tiger is the best player in the world. What can you say? He hits shots no one else can hit. If he plays good, we’re struggling. If he plays average, someone can beat him. There’s no question about that. But he’s definitely the best player in the world.”
In winning the Bridgestone Invitational, Adam Scott was equally happy as Parry when he took down Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler by an identical four-stroke margin in 2011. That was Scott’s first tournament with New Zealander Steve Williams as his caddie. In summing up his title, Scott said, “I’m really stoked to have won a World Golf Championship and win around this course in nice fashion. The way I closed it out I was really happy.” Ironically, Scott wasn’t around to witness Parry’s heroics nine years earlier. Scott was winning a tournament of his own that week, the European Tour’s Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship by a whopping 10 strokes—something of a daily double for Australia that week.
In his career, Scott has won 13 PGA Tour titles. In addition to his Bridgestone Invitational triumph, Scott has won biggies like the Masters Tournament (2013), the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship (2016), the Tour Championship (2006) and The Players Championship (2004). In addition, he’s been an international team member on The Presidents Cup seven consecutive times. He’ll make it eight when he plays in the biennial competition against a team from the United States in New Jersey in late-September, early-October.
Before then, though, the 19th rendition of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational again takes place this week at Firestone Country Club. Six Australians, including Scott, will attempt to dethrone the world’s No. 1-ranked player, Dustin Johnson, who edged fellow American Scott Piercy by a stroke a year ago. Other Aussies in the field include Jason Day and Marc Leishman by virtue of their top-50 positions in the Official World Golf Ranking. Scott Hend is in because he won the Asian Tour’s True Thailand Classic in March, while Sam Brazel (2016 UBS Hong Kong Open) and Rod Pampling (the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas).
(Story courtesy of the PGA Tour, for Inside Golf)