Parr pumped for Open

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

MARKHAM -- No matter where the twists and turns take Andrew Parr on his quest for PGA Tour success, all roads so far have led to Angus Glen Golf Club.

It's a journey the 24-year-old Londoner knows intimately well -- a nearly three-hour jaunt through often snarling traffic headaches in Toronto's northeast to a spot that has served as Parr's most important classroom and, this week, the site of his second career PGA Tour event and first Canadian Open.

"About seven years ago, I started coming here -- I knew (former London Hunt club employee) James Mills and asked him who his brother Jon (a pro golfer with PGA Tour experience) was working with at the time and he told me Dave Woods at Angus Glen," the two-time Ontario amateur champ said.

At 17, Parr realized he had to take the next step to hone his own game and Angus Glen became the mecca in Markham -- a necessary commute for the chance to work with Woods. Sometimes, he'd drive himself. In the early days, he often hopped a ride with London police chief Murray Faulkner, who was a close friend of Parr's father Dave and has treated the young golfer like an adopted son.

Faulkner and Woods will be in Parr's gallery all week and they made the walk with him yesterday during an abbreviated practice round in which he played in a foursome with Mike Weir, Derek Gillespie and Victor Ciesielski, who caused a stir as an upstart amateur last year at the Open in Ancaster.

"To play with Mike Weir was special," said Parr, who recalled going crazy in his Texas A&M dorm room when his countryman claimed the Masters title. "He's a guy I grew up watching on TV, it was a thrill to play a round with him."

Alas, the veteran from Bright's Grove, who will be among the favourites to win his first Canadian Open after a strong week in the British Open at Carnoustie, couldn't lean on the six-foot-four London linkster for advice on all the nooks and crannies the Glen has to offer. Despite his frequent travels here for practice sessions, Parr has only played Angus Glen's north course two or three times.

"He knows the driving range inside out, though . . . and the putting green," Faulkner said with a laugh.

Parr also laughed at the irony of it. He won't have the benefit of a home-course advantage to help push him past the cut and through to the weekend but he already knows this event feels much different than his tour debut two weeks ago at the John Deere Classic in Chicago.

"I drove in here and everything felt familiar to me because I've been coming here for years -- I know this place," Parr said. "I went to the John Deere and didn't know the course. It's an adjustment you have to make in your first few tour events. I don't have that here."

There, he was just like every other nervous rookie on the tour trying to make his mark and getting comfortable with the world of pro golf. Here, he is in the spotlight, one of 20 Canadian golfers trying to put on a good showing at an event hurt by its schedule position directly after the British Open and slapped in the face by Davis Love III, who declined to come to a course he redesigned two years ago.

Woods could see long ago that Parr had the desire and drive to become a good player. Faulkner sees the focus but also the other side that could make him a gallery favourite.

"He's a Londoner and he's going to have quite a following this week," he said. "He's always attracted a pretty good crowd because he's good to the kids. He signs for them and talks to them and that means a lot. I've only played golf once in my life. I get invited to play but I feel this is my golf -- through Andrew."

Around the same time Parr started getting serious about a future in golf, he attended his one and only Canadian Open as a spectator. He picked a good one -- that was the 2000 event at Glen Abbey when Tiger Woods cemented the victory by launching a long iron shot from the bunker to within 10 feet of the 18th flag.

Parr's gallery likely won't be as big as the one he was standing in to watch Woods, but he'll have plenty of family and friends to lean on all week. He says he's ready to go, has worked hard for this and knows this is the stage on which he wants to perform.

"Every young golfer wants to make the PGA Tour just like every young hockey player wants to play in the NHL," Faulkner said. "And golf is just like hockey in that all players plateau at one point and don't seem to get any better. What makes the best stay on top is their willingness to practise, practise, practise."

Parr has that willingness.

When you have that, there's no limit to where you'll end up -- maybe even a place that feels just like a second home.


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