LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Native Kentuckian Kenny Perry’s dream scenario unfolded Sunday at Valhalla as he closed out his PGA Championship career with a birdie and a 3-under 68.
“Well, it's just a dream way to end your career," said Perry, 54. "If I could have scripted it, this is how I would have scripted it at my home state of Kentucky at Valhalla. I've had great times and sad times and lot of emotion, all my friends and family. And it couldn't have – we couldn't have scripted it any way better. This was the way to do it.”
Perry, who celebrated his birthday Sunday and said before the tournament that his goal this week was just to make the cut, has experienced both heartbreak and elation at Valhalla, losing the 1996 PGA in a playoff to Mark Brooks and winning the 2008 Ryder Cup with the U.S.
“There's a lot of great memories," Perry said. "My memory is popping the champagne up there on the balcony. How can you not? With the red, white and blue all over you, to me that was the coolest, best experience of my golfing career."
He still remembers ’96 though, when he saw his best chance to win a major slip through his fingers, making bogey on the final hole to fall into a tie and eventually losing in a playoff.
He compared his 72nd-hole experience from 1996 with this year, when "I hit the prettiest little 4-iron hybrid I've hit all week. Could have used that 20-something years ago. That would’ve made my life. A big game-changer.”
Perry, who won two Champions Tour majors in 2013 and one earlier this year, made it clear that this would be his last attempt to win a Big One. He played this week on a special exemption.
“I'm glad. I'm ready for it. Thirty years of trying to make 3-footers, I'm ready to do something else,” he said. “It's been great. I had my time, had my chance and my opportunities. It was awesome. I enjoyed every bit of the ride.”