Notes Outpouring of love for Perry mind-boggling

By Doug FergusonApril 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2007 Zurich ClassicNEW ORLEANS ' Kenny Perry never took pity on himself for losing a two-shot lead with two holes to play in the Masters. Everyone else did that for him.
 
Among the first to call when Perry returned home to Kentucky were Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson, who know from experience what its like to lose a major. He also got a call from Scott Hoch, one of his best friends on tour, who 20 years ago missed a 3-foot putt that would have won the Masters.
 
Among the letters was one from former President George W. Bush.
 
It was just incredible the outpouring of support, Perry said. I had so many people just proud of the way I handled the loss.
 
Perry, who returns to the PGA Tour this week at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, would have been the oldest major champion at 48. It could be that his popularity soars even more by the gracious way he handled his playoff defeat to Angel Cabrera.
 
He answered every question with brutal honestly. He didnt make excuses. And he didnt beat himself up.
 
The amount of fan mail he received was reminiscent of when Greg Norman blew a six-shot lead in the final round of the 1996 Masters. The Shark was revered for handling the loss, and was inundated with fan mail the following week.
 
I received almost 600 e-mails. I received hundreds of cards and letters. People who genuinely cared, Perry said in a conference call Tuesday from New Orleans. And the letters all started out, Ive never written a letter like this, but I just felt compelled to write to you.
 
Its been tough, and its been hard, he said. But the outpouring of fan support was mind-boggling to me. It really was very uplifting.
 
Perry said he went over the final two holes during a reflective drive home to Kentucky, especially the chip that he bladed on the 17th hole, and even the three-putt par on the 13th hole.
 
He figures the turning point came during the walk from the 16th green to the 17th green, after a tap-in birdie to build a two-shot lead. Perry told himself he was two pars away from winning the Masters, instead of concentrating on only his next shot, which he had been doing the previous 70 holes.
 
I stuck my neck out, thought I was going to win, he said. But I just came up a little bit short. As an athlete, or a player, thats all you can ask of yourself.
 
The emotions came from his family, particularly his oldest daughter. And he had a quiet chat with his 85-year-old father. But he didnt shed any tears of his own, except when he was reading the letters.
 
That was more emotional to me than me just sitting and reflecting on what went on, what was happening, Perry said. It was the outpouring of love and support from everybody that was really more emotional to me than anything.
 

 
LEES ROAD: Some U.S. Amateur champions wait a full year before turning pro so they can take exemptions to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. Others turn pro immediately and try to earn enough money from seven exemptions to avoid Q-school.
 
Danny Lee is taking a different route, which might turn out to be the best route of all.
 
Lee remained an amateur so he could play in the Masters, then announced he was turning pro. He will make his debut this week at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, one of seven sponsor exemptions the 18-year-old is allowed.
 
By turning pro now, Lee has plenty more opportunities.
 
He also will play the Memorial and AT&T National, which award exemptions to the U.S. Amateur champion even if he turns pro. Those will not count against the maximum seven sponsor exemptions. And while Lee gave up his spot in the U.S. Open, he is exempt into the final stage of qualifying the day after the Memorial.
 
If he gets into the U.S. Open, he will have 10 tournaments to earn $537,958 ' the equivalent to 150th on the money list last year ' to get special temporary membership and get all the exemptions he wants.
 
To earn his card, Lee will have to make the equivalent of 125th on the money list for 2009.
 
Unlike others who have tried before him, Lee has one other advantage. By winning the Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour in February, he is eligible for the $8.5 million Bridgestone Invitational, a World Golf Championship event that has no cut.
 
His other sponsor exemptions are for Quail Hollow, the Byron Nelson Championship and the Colonial, meaning he would have three left.
 
Meanwhile, Lee signed an endorsement contract Tuesday with Callaway Golf.
 

 
BIG GAME ANGEL: Angel Cabrera has not been the steadiest performer on the PGA Tour, but he sure shows up in the big events.
 
Over the past four years, the Argentine has only six top 10s on American soil, and his only two victories were the Masters and the U.S. Open two years ago at Oakmont.
 
He lost in the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship in 2008. And in 2006, his only top 10s were fourth place in the Bridgestone Invitational, seventh place at the British Open and a tie for eighth at the Masters.
 

 
TEMPORARY MEMBERS: At least one European player has taken up special temporary membership on the PGA Tour.
 
Ross Fisher of England, who lost in the semifinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship, has earned $588,575 in tournaments sanctioned by the PGA Tour and now can take unlimited exemptions to try to finish the equivalent of the top 125 on the money list.
 
The more famous European, Rory McIlroy, has earned $588,691 but declined his offer of temporary membership. The 19-year-old from Northern Ireland plans to stick to a European Tour schedule this year.
 
McIlroy failed in his bid to become the youngest PGA Tour winner in history, but he had a strong showing during a pair of three-week stints in America. He made the cut in all six starts, and his tie for 58th at Hilton Head was the only time he failed to finish in the top 20.
 

 
DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson has finished ahead of Tiger Woods in all three tournaments they have played this year. Former British Open champion Tom Lehman makes his Champions Tour debut this week by teaming with Bernhard Langer in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga. It took Woods nearly three years to return to the top of the PGA Tours standings for consecutive cuts made. Robert Allenby had been leading until missing the cut at Hilton Head. Woods streak is at 33 tournaments, which is all he has played since the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Three of the past four winners at the Verizon Heritage did not play the previous week at the Masters.
 

 
FINAL WORD: I turn 50 next year, so Im doing stuff probably most people shouldnt be doing. Im very thankful for it. ' Kenny Perry.
 

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  • Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

    Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

    Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

    After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

    With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.


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    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

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    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


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    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

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    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”