The 54-year-old earned his first PGA Tour win at the Memorial in 1991, and Friday he walked off the green for the final time in his 25th tournament appearance. Perry bogeyed No. 18 to card a 1-over 73, and at even par he missed the cut by one shot.
“I didn’t have any sad emotions. I just had a lot of good feeling emotions. And that tells me I’m ready to step away,” Perry said. “I had my time. I had 30 years out here on the Tour.”
A relative late-bloomer, Perry was 31 years old when he beat Hale Irwin in a playoff here in 1991, but went on to win 13 more times and amass more than $32 million in career earnings. He used a one-time career money list exemption this season to play in a few of his favorite events, making five cuts in eight prior starts.
He knew all along, though, that he wanted to make his final start at Jack’s Place.
“All I wanted to do was come here and say thanks to Jack (Nicklaus),” Perry said. “I wanted to come up and shake his hand, sit and talk to him a little bit in there. That’s been awesome.”
Perry came close to winning a pair of majors, losing to Mark Brooks in a playoff at the 1996 PGA Championship and losing to Angel Cabrera in a playoff at the 2009 Masters. He now plans to focus his attention on the Champions Tour, where he has won seven times and captured the season-long Schwab Cup in 2013.
“I’m tired of getting up early,” he said. “The Champions Tour, the earliest tee time is usually around 10 a.m. That’s nice. You sleep in, more relaxed. I just want to sail away off into the sunset, that’s kind of what I’m after.”