By Rohan Clarke

Craig Parry had booked his flights and sorted his accommodation. Then he read one of the best emails he’s ever received.

As a two-time winner on the US PGA Tour, he didn’t need to enter this week’s Q-school for the Champions Tour.

Parry will be exempt into all events on the 2016 Champions Tour because he falls into a special category for ‘multiple winners’ on the US PGA Tour.

That means Parry won’t have to try his luck at its qualifying school for professionals over the age of 50 where just five full playing cards are on offer.

“I was very excited to not have to go to the school,” says a relieved Parry, who turns 50 on January 12.

“I was always told that I had to go to the school. But having the two wins, it puts me in a different category to the guys that have only won once.”

Five spots are set aside each week on the Champions Tour for multiple winners, which places Parry in the company of two-time Major champions José María Olazábal and John Daly, both of whom celebrate their 50th birthdays early next year.

It’s a licence to pursue a pot of gold. The 2016 Champions Tour schedule features 26 tournaments with total prize money exceeding $US55 million and an average purse of $US2.1 million.

Parry has no illusion about the challenge, but fancies himself against the so-called ‘pot-bellies’ once the ban on anchoring the putter comes into effect on January 1.

About 40 per cent of Champions Tour players use long putters, including Bernhard Langer and Australian Masters winner Peter Senior.

“It will be nice coming out next year with all the guys getting rid of their broomstick putters and having to go back to the short putter,” quips Parry.

“You’ve still got to be able to play very well. I’m sure the winning scores and for top 10 you’ve got to play bloody good golf.”

Parry hadn’t intended to play any of the big three Australian tournaments until he received notification that he could bypass Q-school.

He could be excused for the woeful start he made to our summer of golf where he missed the cut at both the UNIQLO Masters (75-78) and Emirates Australian Open (81-73).

Parry recently underwent eye surgery for a pterygium, commonly known as surfer’s eye, which is a non-cancerous lesion where the tissue grows over the white of the eye and can interfere with vision.

The recovery sidelined him for six weeks and Parry had played just one round of golf in two months before teeing off at Huntingdale.

Throughout his career on the US PGA Tour, Parry played 306 events and amassed prizemoney of $US8.48 million.

His first title came at the 2002 NEC Invitational when he became the first Australian to win one of the World Golf Championships against a top-class field that included Tiger Woods in his prime.

Parry achieved a second win at the 2004 Ford Championship when he famously holed a 6-iron from 161 metres to beat Scott Verplank in a playoff at Doral.

Before that victory, Parry had considered abandoning the PGA Tour to play in Japan so he could be closer to his young family in Sydney.

Eleven years later, Parry has a different set of personal circumstances with no timeframe on how long he will purse the Champions Tour.

“That’s the unknown. If you play good, obviously you’re going to be out there longer. And if you don’t play as good, well I doubt if you’d want to be out there not playing good golf.”