Kenny Perry had already won twice this season and six times over-all in his career prior to Sunday at The Greater Milwaukee Open. Steve Allan had made just one cut all year.
Kenny Perry's victory Sunday at The Greater Milwaukee Open was the third in his last four starts. Steve Allan's tie for his second was his first top 10 in the United States.
All of which is a way of saying that nothing succeeds like success.
Or, in other words, none of us should have been surprised Sunday when Perry, trailing by three shots with four to play, birdied three of those holes (including the final two) to edge Allan. For his part, Allan led by three with three holes to play. He didn't exactly collapse - one bogey and two pars - but suddenly and shockingly he found himself protecting a sizable lead when an hour earlier he had been calmly, and without pressure, chasing Perry.
'I don't know why all of a sudden I'm winning golf tournaments,' said Perry afterward.
One of the reasons is that he has won golf tournaments before. He has come to terms with the out-of-body-experience feelings Sunday afternoon can bring. He understood enough not to panic when he bogeyed the 12th and double-bogeyed the 13th holes.
Allan is still learning. The consolation check he will cash - $308,000 for tying for second with Heath Slocum - will help ease the pain. And it's not as if this young Australian - nicknamed 'The Baby-Faced Assassin - hasn't won elsewhere. His resume includes victories at the German Open and the Australian Open. It's just that he has chosen to compete on the most lucrative and competitive tour in the world. And winning in America is worth more in status and exemptions than it is in cold hard cash.
Perry is now the fourth player to have won three times on our tour this year with almost half the season remaining. The other three - Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Davis Love. That's fast company. Perry says his goal now is to finish first on the money list. He moved from seventh to fifth on that list at Milwaukee, a place where the rough is longer the greens are more slippery and the pins are more tucked than they used to be.
Perry's career earnings have now surpassed $13 million. That's quite a bit of house money, actually.
So did Steve Allan choke? I think not. But only he knows for sure. The more important question is: What did he learn? And not even he knows the answer to
that right now.
He won't be sure until he gets into a similar striking position again. Will he remember not to change his pace of play and shot preparation? Will he remember to seek that almost zen-like place where he will be able to shut out the consequences of winning or losing and usher in thoughts of distance, shape,
trajectory, speed and course conditions?
When he watches the tape of the broadcast of the final round of the 2003 Greater Milwaukee Open, he will be smart if he pays just as much attention to what Kenny Perry did than what he didn't do.