SAMMAMISH, Wash. (AP) -- Tiger Woods was partially responsible for Craig Parry even getting to play in the NEC Invitational.
Once the final round began, Parry didn't need anyone's help.
In his 236th start over 10 years, Parry made his first PGA Tour victory a big one, capturing the $5 million World Golf Championship event with a flawless final round of 65 for a four-stroke victory over Robert Allenby and Fred Funk.
"It's a long time coming," said Parry, who didn't make a bogey over his final 48 holes at Sahalee Country Club. "To win on this tour means everything to me."
Parry became the only player besides Woods to win the NEC Invitational, and he has Woods to thank for the opportunity.
After three years as a tournament for only Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players, the field was expanded to include the top 50 in the world, along with winners of top events on other tours.
Parry won the New Zealand Open, which ordinarily isn't a top event. It was this year because Woods, the No. 1 player, decided to play for a $2 million as a favor to Steve Williams, his Kiwi caddie.
"If Tiger doesn't play in New Zealand, I'm not here," Parry said. "Stevie left me a note about that in my locker."
Just don't expect Parry to give Woods any of his $1 million check.
"He doesn't need the money," Parry said.
No, but Parry desperately needed this victory.
This is his 10th full season on the PGA Tour, and the 36-year-old Aussie figured he would have won by now. He certainly had his chances.
He had a three-stroke lead with 15 holes to play in the 1992 Masters until he let a pro-Fred Couples gallery bother him and he shot 78 to tie for 13th.
Parry held a one-stroke lead with seven holes to play in the 1999 British Open until taking a triple bogey on No. 12 at Carnoustie, a double bogey on No. 17 and finishing one stroke out of the playoff.
Tom Lehman beat him at the '95 Colonial with birdies on the last two holes. Phil Mickelson stole one a year later at the Byron Nelson by chipping in for eagle on the 16th.
"I always knew it was a matter of time," Parry said.
He never had reason to doubt Sunday.
Starting the final round tied with Allenby -- with Woods, Ernie Els and Mickelson among those close behind -- the cheers that echoed through the tree-lined fairways at Sahalee belonged almost exclusively to Parry.
He birdied the second hole from 6 feet, rolled in a 12-foot birdie on the next hole and then hit a 9-iron into about 12 inches on the fourth hole.
Parry had a three-stroke lead, and no one else had a chance.
"He put on a clinic," Funk said.
With his lead at four strokes, and another enormous cheer indicating that his second shot reached the green on the par-5 18th hole, Parry could no longer contain a sly smile.
"You beauty," Parry thought to himself.
It was every bit of that.
"To put himself in contention like that and go out and shoot a bogey-free round is pretty impressive," Woods said.
Woods was trying to become the first player in 75 years to win the same tournament four years in a row. Starting the final round two strokes behind, he simply couldn't keep pace with Parry and finished fourth with a 68 -- five strokes back.
"I just didn't make enough birdies," he said. A 19-time winner overseas, Parry thought his career would have been lacking without a victory on the PGA Tour, which has the deepest and strongest fields.
"These are the best players in the world," Parry said. "It will sink in, obviously, in a couple of weeks' time. At the moment, I'm just very happy to win."
Parry, a stocky 5-foot-6 known as "Popeye" for his powerful forearms, became the second player this year to win his first PGA Tour event at one of the $5 million World Golf Championships.
Kevin Sutherland won his first tour event at the Match Play Championship in February with a 1-up victory at La Costa.
Only this final round wasn't even close.
"When I was up three birdies, that put enough pressure on the other guys," Parry said. "I felt as though I played smart golf this week."
There was no stopping him Sunday on a gray, cool afternoon at Sahalee, an Indian word that means, "High, Heavenly Ground."
Parry was walking on clouds when he ripped a 3-wood into the green on the par-5 18th and tapped in for a birdie.
"I'm just very lucky at the moment," Parry said. "Hopefully, I'll have a little more confidence with my golf game, knowing I can finish the job off."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.