'It's a bummer I don't get to defend at Bay Hill, but I wasn't going to do a good job being there,' Perry said Sunday evening from his home in Franklin, Ky.
Perry said he hurt his knee at the season-opening Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, and continued playing despite feeling pain when he squat to read a putt or plucked his golf ball out of the hole. He has missed two cuts in six starts this year, and his best finish was a tie for 12th in Phoenix.
'I thought I was just getting old,' Perry said. 'I didn't think nothing of it. But I decided this week to go get an MRI done. Now it all makes sense.'
Perry, 45, discovered he has a tear in his meniscus. The surgery will be done by Michael Pagnani, the team physician for the Nashville Predators in the NHL.
A nine-time winner on the PGA Tour who has played in the last two Presidents Cup and the '04 Ryder Cup, Perry has remained relatively healthy throughout his 20-year career on tour. His first surgery means he will miss The Players Championship and the Masters.
Perry hopes to return in time for the Colonial the third week in May, where he is defending champion.
Along with his scoring, Perry noticed a huge change in his game. He is among the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, finishing ninth in driving distance last year with an average drive of 304.7 yards.
In six tournaments, he was 108th in driving distance at 285.4 yards.
Perry had planned to do a playing lesson with The Golf Channel on Monday night, and studying old video, noticed that he no longer was firing off his right knee.
'I've been protecting my right knee, and I've lost significant yardage off the tee,' he said. 'I can play, but I'm struggling so much that I'm not doing a good job of it. I'd rather get this taken care of and finish out the year.'
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.