The European Tour’s flagship event dawns at Wentworth today with the fortunes of two of Yorkshire’s leading golfers contrasting sharply.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett and Harrogate’s John Parry played on the same Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team back in 2007, but this year has been markedly different for both.
Willett, 26, has been a pillar of consistency this season, making the cut in each of the 10 tournaments he has played, and finishing outside the top 25 on only two occasions.
He has amassed 226,141 euros (£183,917) from 10 tournaments, but if there is a nagging doubt chipping away at the Rotherham Golf Club member, it is that he has not transformed enough of those performances into consistent challenges.
Only on a couple of occasions as he threatened on a Sunday, and only twice has he recorded a top-10 finish.
Yet he heads to European Tour headquarters for today’s BMW PGA Championship at peace with his game, untroubled by the back injury that disrupted so much of his 2013 campaign, and confident of adding to his one Tour victory to date, sometime soon.
Parry, meanwhile, finds himself at the other end of the spectrum.
While Willett has been pocketing hatfuls of cash, Parry has earned just 8,100 euros (£6,592) after a wretched run of form.
That pay cheque came in the very first tournament of 2014, the Alfred Dunhill Championship, since when he has made heading home on a Friday a habit he just cannot break.
Parry has missed 12 cuts in succession, a sequence that has yielded just one round under 70 in 27 played.
It is all a far cry from this exact weekend a year ago, when after not being eligible for the BMW PGA Championship, he channeled that anger into qualifying for the US Open at Walton Heath on the Bank Holiday Monday.
Three weeks later he put four competitive rounds together at Merion to finish 28th, a performance that acted as a catalyst for a strong end to the season.
It set alight in him an ambition to go higher, but in shooting for the stars he has quickly fallen back to earth.
Parry split with his coach of two decades Mark Moore in January, right around the time his game was beginning to unravel.
Four months later, after opening The Championship at Laguna National in Singapore on May 1 with an 80, Parry decided enough was enough. He withdrew from the tournament and within a week had announced on Twitter that he was back working with his former coach Moore in an effort to rediscover the form that saw him claim a maiden Tour victory in 2010, and storm back onto the circuit at qualifying school two years later.
“After 20 years working together sometimes you need a change,” said Moore, of a split that both parties insist was amicable. “He’s very ambitious and a couple of things we were working on didn’t quite work. Since we’ve been back together our relationship is better. There’s more honesty.
“We know where we each stand. Obviously, John’s golf isn’t at its best at the moment but his attitude is very good. He needs self belief. Sometimes you have to reach rock bottom before you can start to pick up.”
Having had a fortnight to reconnect with his old mentor, Parry returns to action at the Tour’s flagship event today.
First prize this week is worth 791,660 euros (£643,918) a sum that would eclipse Parry’s entire career earnings.
A leap from despair to joy in such a short space of time might be too much to wish for, but an appearance at the weekend would at least represent progress for Parry.
“It’s a big test for him this week, the toughest field of the year, but we’ve got some targets in mind,” continued Moore. “He needs to stick to the game plan and try and find some positives. We’ve been working on his swing because he had developed a timing issue.
“As of now we don’t know if what we have worked on will take a week, three weeks or three months to bed in. But he will be a better player because of it.”
Malton’s Simon Dyson and Hull’s Richard Finch are also in a field that is headlined by nine major champions, three members of the world’s top 10 in Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy, and two former world No 1s, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.