Perez continues career resurgence with CIMB win

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2017, 1:24 pm

Staked to a four-shot lead and still with one round to go at the CIMB Classic, Pat Perez took stock of the confluence of factors that had brought him to the precipice of his third career win.

"I guess I'm a lot different than I was 10 years ago, for sure. I can't really explain it," Perez told reporters. "I've been working hard on a lot of things, and it's all kind of come together now."

One day and one trophy later, Perez had the tangible confirmation that it had in fact come together, as he held off Keegan Bradley for his second win in less than a year. It's another chapter in the resurgence of veteran who continues to defy what the second half of a career arc is supposed to look like.

It was only a year ago that Perez showed up to Malaysia full of doubt. He was seven years removed from his lone PGA Tour win, eight months removed from his last Tour start and six months removed from shoulder surgery that sidelined him for the summer of 2016.

At age 40, Perez had accepted a sponsor invite to play in Kuala Lumpur simply with the hopes of getting his season on track. His goal was simply to keep his card as he embarked on a new campaign equipped with a major medical extension.

But he played well, finishing T-33, and two starts later captured the OHL Classic at Mayakoba to spark a career season that was capped by his first-ever trip to the Tour Championship.

"I really can't believe what's gone on basically really a year from this tournament last year," Perez said. "But if they hadn't given me the spot (at CIMB), the funny thing is I don't know if I would have started the Tour until January. So all those chain of events might not have happened."

Granted, this isn't how it's supposed to work. Tour players are not supposed to meander through their 30s subsisting year-to-year, only to find their footing after turning the big 4-0. But Perez has always been one of the more unique characters inside the ropes, so perhaps it's only fitting that he has carved a unique path.


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The route may have been circuitous, but the destination is undeniable. After a four-shot romp in Malaysia, Perez is knocking on the top 20 in the world rankings and boasts a resume that could rival nearly any other player over the last 12 months.

"I played well enough to win this week, but Pat's playing exceptionally," said runner-up Keegan Bradley. "I mean, the last two days, every time I made a birdie, he did, too."

Part of Perez's resurgence is rooted in his desire to rebound from the labrum tear that sidelined him last year. But he also has some extra motivation on the equipment front which he has used to fuel his ascent to largely unprecedented heights.

In the wake of his win Sunday, Perez explained that he was "dropped" by Callaway last year before signing with PXG, although he offered a more colorful recount of the situation earlier this year.

"I loved those irons, but I couldn't wait to put something else in the bag and then shove it up Callaway's ass," Perez told Golf.com shortly his win at Mayakoba. "It was such a motivator. All I could think was, 'I am going to bury these people and nothing is going to stop me.'"

Little even slowed Perez last season, as he added a runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship to his win in Mexico. He also tied for third in Maui and finished T-4 in his hometown event at the Farmers Insurance Open. What may have seemed like a one-off spike in results quickly turned into a season-long uptick.

As his journey came full circle with his return to Malaysia, Perez feasted on the seashore paspalum greens at TPC Kuala Lumpur. They're the same fickle surfaces he tamed last year in Mexico, and this week he rolled in 27 birdies to distance himself from the 78-man field.

A candid response is never far away when talking to Perez, who told reporters that his brief off-season consisted of watching the Presidents Cup as well as eating and drinking "a lot." But he clearly didn't lose any form in his two-week break, even after an uncomfortable flight to Asia led him to lower his expectations for the week.

Instead, he's a winner again. In an era where youth is king, Perez has seemingly discovered a way to turn back the clock, and this week in Malaysia he once again showed that there's more than one path to success on (and off) the course.

"I'm not going to change anything. I'm still not going to work out. I'll still have a bad diet, and I'm going to enjoy myself," Perez said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time, I really am. That's all I'm doing. I don't get ahead of myself, I don't look in the past, I'm just kind of doing it."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''