Perry Refocuses at FedEx

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kenny Perry knows he has a serious problem. Sure, he blew away the field last week by seven strokes in winning the Colonial despite a case of nearsightedness so bad he couldn't read his eye doctor's chart less than 24 hours later. But vision wasn't his dilemma Wednesday as he prepared for the St. Jude Classic.
 
'I've got to somehow regroup. I shot a couple over today in the pro-am. ... My head wasn't quite in it. I was out in space. I'm thinking too much in the past. I've got to refocus, get back in the present and get ready to play golf,' Perry said.
 
Perry certainly has shown that he can remain focused in consecutive weeks. The last time he won Colonial in 2003, he followed up with a victory at Memorial the next week.
 
But he said Wednesday he doesn't know exactly how he came down off the high to win those tournaments, and he thinks his second victory this year and ninth career was much more emotional because of how special Colonial is to him.

'Somehow, I've got to come back to Earth here,' Perry said.
 
That shouldn't be much of a problem because Perry has very few good memories at the TPC at Southwind. He hasn't played there since 1999, partly because he hasn't fared very well on the course with five missed cuts, including his last two visits in 1998 and 1999.
 
He was third in 1996 for his only top 10 finish.
 
Perhaps in a lucky stroke for Perry, the golf course is very different from last year when David Toms won the tournament sponsored by FedEx for a second straight year.
 
Work began the day after Toms finished off a routine six-stroke victory in 2004. The grass on the greens was stripped with champion Bermuda replacing the original bentgrass, and tee boxes were pushed forward or back to add 141 yards.
 
Par is a stroke lower at 70 on the 7,244-yard course. The par-5 No. 5 was changed to a 485-yard par 4, with the tee moved forward. Sticking a shot on the green that slopes to the back won't be easy.
 
Toms said he has heard a couple people mention the changes were made to protect the course from him. He went 20 under in 2003 and 16 under in 2004 when the greens were soft enough that golfers could shoot right at the pins, knowing their balls would stick close.
 
Shooting low has been the key since the tournament moved to this course in 1989, including John Cook's 26 under in 1996.
 
'I'm anxious to get started (Thursday) to see how I do, see how everybody else does on the redesign just because I think there's some unknowns about exactly how it's going to play,' Toms said.
 
Toms will try to become the first player to win this event three straight years, which would make him the first since Tiger Woods to win a PGA Tour event three consecutive times. Woods won Bay Hill four straight years from 2000-2003.
 
Toms feels he is playing well enough to do just that after finishing tied for third at Colonial with four straight rounds in the 60s. That followed a stretch in which 13 of his 14 rounds were 70 or higher, and Toms credited good memories and strengthening his left hand on his grip.
 
'Obviously, it would be big for me to be able to do it three times. You don't get that opportunity very often. Certainly, I don't, and this is my one chance. I look forward to the challenge. There's no reason why I can't play well again,' Toms said.
 
Well, there is the changes on the course.
 
Tom Lehman loved most of the alterations, especially on the greens he called firm and very smooth. But he thinks they turned the par-4 10th into the toughest on the course thanks to a new tee box and more rough down the left side that he thinks takes away options to play left or lay up on the 465-yard hole.
 
'Now it's back there where you have to hit driver, and you're hitting right at a bunker. You can't carry the trees. There's high rough left. You've made a difficult hole even worse,' Lehman said.
 
Perry, who has had Lasik surgery twice, said a new pair of glasses won't be ready until Monday to help him putt better than he did Wednesday. Fortunately, the man who leads the tour in total driving statistics still sees a course that prefers straight and accurate hitters.
 
'So I kind of like that,' he said.
 
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