Parry is the one on the right in the blue hat

Popeye and PandaSORRY, we couldn’t resist the thought of Craig Parry posing with a giant panda in China ahead of the tee off of the 2010 OneAsia season.

This photo is about the best evidence we could find that this momentous event did actually take place.

The shot was taken in the lead up to the US$1 million Luxehills Chengdu Open, which begins today and will be telecast in Australia on ONE HD.

“I was amazed at how lively they were. They were a lot of fun and appear to be a very social animal, caring for each other and very playful,” the panda said of Parry after his visit to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Or maybe that quote was the other way around.

Parry, 44, is being touted locally as one of the favourites for the event, beginning Thursday at the Luxehills International Country Club.

The tournament kicks off the growing  OneAsia tour, which this year features 11 events,  $14.3 million in prize money and culminates with the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship in December.

“I’m quite confident as I’ve been playing quite well. I recently shot eight-under and I haven’t done that for a while,” Parry said.

He is one of more than 40 Australians competing in the event, which also includes OneAsia 2009 Order of Merit winner Scott Strange.

Other notables include Chinese stars Liang Wenchong, Zhang Lianweim and rising talent Alex Wu Ashun, and eight-time China Tour winner Li Chao. Japanese US Tour star Shigeki Maruyama is also in the top-class field.

OneAsia is supported by the PGA of Australia and ultimately is seeking to provide players in Asia with an alternative pathway to the PGA Tour and the European Tour.



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