Watch Out For Perry at Pinehurst


How hot was it in Fort Worth last week?
It was so hot: . . . . They were treating armadillos for heat exhaustion in the first aid tent.
It was so hot: . . . . They were cooking up huevos rancheros on the roofs of the courtesy cars.
It was so hot: . . . . Commodities brokers were trading ice cube futures. And the concessionaires at Colonial Country Club issued an initial public offering in frozen margaritas.
Ok, get the idea.
'I'm not used to this kind of heat,' said Andrew Magee. Andrew Magee, it needs to be mentioned, lives in Arizona.
Nobody, of course, was hotter than Kenny Perry. The 44-year-old Kentuckian with the distinct, but effective swing, made one bogey in the first 54 holes which he deftly offset with 19 birdies. By nightfall Saturday he had separated himself from the rest of the field by seven strokes.
That turned out to be his eventual margin of victory over runner-up Billy Mayfair.
Sunday was a victory lap for Perry. And it came on a day on which the temperature was predicted to climb to the highest level for a May 22d in the history of this town where Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid used to hole up and where Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan used to hang out at the same caddie yard when they were kids.
Long-hitting Kenny Perry turned the rest of the field at the Bank of America Colonial into Texas Toast. And by virtue of his second PGA Tour victory this year--Bay Hill was the other--he stamped himself as one of the early favorites for next month's U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
It is interesting to note that Perry was absent from Pinehurst in 1999, the last time the USGA conducted its marquee national championship there. He wasn't playing well that year. So Perry will be something of an X-factor when he shows up this time.
But if long, and straight and smart counts for anything, count Perry in the mix.
It's not like he's one of those accomplished players who can't figure out how to play U.S. Open set-ups. In 2003 Perry won at Colonial, triumphed at The Memorial and streaked into Chicago where he finished third behind Jim Furyk and Stephen Leaney at the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.
To put Perry's Bank of America victories this year and in 2003 into some kind of perspective think of it this way: Ben Hogan won this event five times. His lowest winning 72-hole score was 279. Perry's winning total in each of his two wins here was 261. That's 18 shots better than the best of the great Ben Hogan.
No, you have to like Kenny Perry at Pinehurst. And, in fact, it might come down to how well his caddie reads the greens there. Perry, you see, isn't seeing as well as he used to even though he appears to be playing as well as ever.
He will depend heavily on the reads of his caddie at Pinehurst.
The ball-striking part? Perry's got that down to a tee.
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