Azinger is captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that will take on Europe at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky in September. And heres my two cents worth now that June and Kenny Perry have arrived on the 2008 golf scene:
Pair Tiger Woods and Kenny Perry in the first four-ball match on the first day and get the crowd into it immediately.
Woods is the dominant player in the world. The sizzling Perry, who jumped from 17th to fifth on the U.S. Ryder Cup point standings after winning at The Memorial on Sunday, is a native Kentuckian.
They say you cant force it in golf. They say you have to let the game come to you. Perry says otherwise. His publicly announced and unabashed goal all year long has been to make Azingers team.
Now it looks like he is a virtual lock.
Perry is a long-in-the-tooth 47 years old. In early May he led the PLAYERS after 54 holes and blew to a final round 81. A win there would have almost certainly punched his ticket to Valhalla. A week later he lost in a playoff in Atlanta at the AT&T Classic. Perry then played poorly at Colonial where he had won three times before. And again, another golden opportunity to earn precious Ryder Cup points went begging.
But Sunday at Memorial, by sheer dint of will, Perry turned it all around. He captured Jack Nicklaus Memorial with a steely final round 69. Sweet, Perry said.
In fact, Perrys Ryder Cup pursuit has been so single-minded that it has left him without the time or the inclination to enter the U.S. Open next week in San Diego. So he will not play there.
The U.S. Open will do quite nicely without Kenny Perry. And vice versa. Perrys plan all along was to put making Americas premier golf team ahead of playing in Americas national championship.
If you must insist on sticking the Fifth Major label on a golf event, try affixing it to the Ryder Cup.
Meanwhile, going into the final round at Memorial Matt Goggin was attempting to become the first player to win Nicklaus event wire-to-wire. As if that wasnt enough pressure, he was, at age 33, still looking for his first PGA TOUR victory.
The pressure reared its ugly head on the very first hole when Goggin blocked an 8-iron from the middle of the fairway into a greenside bunker and couldnt get up and down for par. Then, on the par-3 fourth, he missed the green badly off the tee and wound up in a nasty patch of rough from where he chopped out and two-putted for another bogey.
At that point two players, Justin Rose and Mike Weir were ahead of him at 7 under.
Prior to this week many golf fans still confused Matthew Goggin with American Matt Gogel'Matt Goggin and Matt Gogel. Gogel, who works part-time as a GOLF CHANNEL announcer has won on the PGA TOUR.
And if you Google Gogel, you will indeed find out he is not Goggin. All of which can boggle the noggin.
When Goggin birdied the fifth to get back to 7 under he found himself tied for the lead with Weir, Rose and Perry, who won at Memorial in 1991 and 2003.
All of a sudden, tournament host Jack Nicklaus said, its a contest. And it heated up even more when Rose holed a greenside bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 7th to commandeer first place alone at 7 under.
Speaking of Matts, when former U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar birdied the par-5 fifth, he moved to one shot of the lead at 6 under.
As Sunday wore on, Perry wore well. His winning total of 8 under was two better than the four players'Rose, Goggin, Weir and Kelly who tied for second.
Magic always happens for me here, said Perry of the pristine but difficult Muirfield Village course that serves as The Memorials venue.
And it says here magic is waiting to happen again if Azinger sees fit to pair Woods and Perry at Valhalla in September.
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