The Man from Franklin

By Adam BarrSeptember 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ah, smell that fall air. The leaves are turning, the apples are coming in. And its time to think about golfs story of the year.
 
Nothing against the remaining tournaments on the schedule, but the pace slows appreciably after the Ryder Cup. This year especially, with the FedEx Cup winner decided early, Tiger Woods not playing in the Tour Championship, and no other substantial competitions coming, were definitely in the cool-down that follows the hard run of the mid-season.
 
Kenny Perry
Kenny Perry achieved his dream and more this season. (Getty Images)
No one could be blamed for setting up the Tiger U.S. Open saga as a lock for story of the year. With Rocco Mediate as an engaging co-star and Tigers ACL as the villain (and later, the stress fractures tossed in for added evil), this is a hard one to beat. Another good entry is Anthony Kim, with his two wins, his Ryder Cup performance, and his immense confidence in a world that everyone else seems to have handed over to Tiger. Off-course, theres the whole LPGA/English language fiasco.
 
But in this year of nominations and elections, my candidate is Kenny Perry.
 
Heres a guy whos more regular than the gas you used to put in a 69 Camaro. At age 48, he has about as many miles on him, too. Not a classic golf swing, to be sure ' but a very effective right-to-left trajectory. Talk about confidence, though. While we were all watching football games and nursing hangovers New Years Day, Perry was setting a goal. He would make the Ryder Cup team, play in front of his home crowd in Kentucky ' and contribute. He knew it was likely his last chance at this kind of accomplishment, and he took it.
 
And look what happened. Perry succeeded in a way that has to warm the heart of any true sports fan. But what Kenny Perry understood first and best, so well that he had to wait for the rest of the golf and sports world to catch up, is that setting a goal has a down side. It involves sacrifice. It requires you to smile (sometimes grimace) and ignore the golf pundits, gathered in groups like Saturday foursomes backed up on the first par-3 on an overcrowded Muni. They presumed to harangue Perry for not playing in major championships when he knew it would be better to skip them to manage his schedule toward the goal. You think Perry didnt want to play in our national championship? Sure, he doesnt like the course at Torrey Pines. But the man is as big a patriot as golf has; he understood very well the American pride that attaches to a U.S. Open. But the goal, the single-minded goal
 
He would not waver, not even when the worst rub-of-the-green of the season robbed him of a chance at victory in Atlanta. In a playoff against Ryuji Imada, Perrys ball rocketed right (what?), hit a tree, and motorcycled across the green and into the pond by the 18th green. Perry was left to stand in the fairway, asking caddie Fred Sanders, Where is it? Where is it? while the TV microphones picked up the shock in his voice. Afterward, he beat a hasty retreat from the scoring trailer with his wife Sandy, needing a moment to compose himself before meeting the press. Dream over, right? Thanks for playing.
 
Not on your Kentucky life. Two weeks later, Perry was hoisting the trophy at Muirfield Village, winner of the Jack Nicklauss Memorial Tournament over a windy, difficult golf course that he still managed to carve up with that aggressive draw and a solid week of putting. He was driving the ball like Kenny Perry again, confidently and in the fairway and longer than he had 20 years ago. And when he had to make putts, he did. He shot 69 the final day and survived a bogey on 17; this after a disheartening, bogey-pocked 74 in Saturdays third round.
 
And that was just the beginning. He was ready near Detroit when Woody Austin faltered, and he notched his second win at the Buick Open. He felt the pressure of a rapidly moving calendar at the John Deere, but stepped up anyway, beating Jay Williamson and Brad Adamonis in a playoff for his third trophy of the year. It was the second time in his career he has won three tournaments in a season (2003).
 
Open Championship? No thanks; dont need the travel. And Kenny had committed to Milwaukee the same week (he won there in 2003). Man of his word. At the PGA Championship in Detroit (heck; thats close enough to Kentucky), his only major of the year, Perry had an eye problem that was bad enough to make him withdraw ' this with the Ryder Cup, his goal, in sight, and his position on the team secured. What if he did all that work ' and had to sit because of he scratched cornea while taking out a contact lens? The feeling in the pit of his stomach must have been dismal.
 
Not that we ever knew. He never complained. He never bemoaned bad breaks. He never crowed about his progress. Through a happy accident of the schedule, I was the lead Golf Channel reporter at all three of his victories this year. If we reporters asked him about his goals, he would tell us, proudly. But otherwise, it was the usual quiet, pleasant Kenny. Off weeks back in Franklin, Ky., working the counter at his golf course, spending family time, and piling on smiles in the little town where hes a hero but doesnt act like one. No swing doc, no head guy, no entourage. Just Kenny.
 
Its so rare in sports these days, this lack of self-importance, as to be quaint. Were so conditioned, so resigned to overblown salaries, $9 beers at the stadium, endorsements, seat licenses and such that a guy just setting a goal and doing the work is an anomaly.
 
Call it an anomaly if you want. I call it an example.
 
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Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.