Perez Reluctantly Returns to Pebble

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Pat Perez sat down on Thursday afternoon and faced the media, just minutes after threatening 59 in the second round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
 
He talked about his career-best 61, and how he feels about playing with amateurs.
 
Then it came up. The inevitable. Pebble Beach 2002.
 
'I havent thought about it yet, Perez said about his return to the Monterey Peninsula.
 
The answer was abrupt, but not entirely truthful. He cant help but think about last years event. People won't let him.
 
I get questions like this all the time, so how can it not stay with me? The media asks me all the time, What do you think about Pebble, what do you think about Pebble? Its hard to forget when you get asked about it all the time, he said.
 
As Perez points out, players lose tournaments every week on every tour. But it wasnt the fact that he entered the final round with a four-stroke lead, or that he played the final hole still leading by one, or that he somehow lost by three. It was his emotional explosions that left an indelible imprint in peoples minds.
 
Unlike professionals who might mask their frustrations behind a pair of sunglasses or mutter profanities under their breath, the 26-year-old Perez has no desire to shelter his feelings.
 
When hes angry, it shows. And his sidekick equipment takes the brunt of the punishment.
 
After a tumultuous 17 holes in the final round of last years Pro-Am ' one that included a chip-in birdie at 13; a double bogey at 14 ' that resulted in a couple of double-fisted club slams, and clutch birdies on 15 and 17 ' Perez led Matt Gogel by a single swing.
 
His next swing, however, was his most fateful. He pushed his drive on the par-5 18th over the gallery, a mere 18 inches out of bounds.
 
With the look of Dead Man Walking back to the tee box, he re-teed, following the penalty, and finally found the fairway.
 
Just in front of him, Gogel had birdied the 18th from 25 feet, meaning Perez needed Heavens help, or a helluva fourth shot in order to try and save par and force a playoff.
 
Instead, he hooked a 3-wood into the Pacific Ocean. He then gave serious consideration to snapping the egregious club over his knee.
 
Ive tried to play with no emotion, but it just doesnt work, Perez was quoted as saying in Januarys GolfWorld.
 
However his madness was perceived, the method led to an impressive freshman campaign.
 
Despite missing 16 cuts in 30 starts, he collected over $1.45 million to finish 40th on the money list. He also had a pair of runner-up finishes among his six top-10s.
 
I had no expectations for me, said the 2001 Q-School medalist. I was just trying to get my name out there, see if I could play with these guys.
 
And when he proved he could, people took notice. Enter the spotlight ' the expectations, the cameras, the questions, the scrutiny, the uneasiness.
 
Now his piled drivers were seen by more than his playing partner and the three people in his gallery. They were exhibited to millions. Millions that witnessed Pebble. Millions who also watched Westchester.
 
Perezs second in 2002 was similar to the first.
 
He chipped in for birdie on the 16th hole in the final round of the Buick Classic, but then three-putted from eight feet at the 17th and finished two back of Chris Smith.
 
This time, though, he displayed his displeasure by ripping the glove off his left hand, and ripping off some colorful combinations that would make a censor earn his keep.
 
But thats simply the way Perez is, and has always been, since well before his days at Arizona State. He offers no excuses, and expresses no desire to change.
 
If anything, hed rather others accept his behavior, or just leave him alone.
 
The media has done nothing but bring up Pebble, but I honestly cant wait until next week and its over, he said. After next week, Im not talking about it ever again.
 
Related Links
  • Pat Perez's Bio
  • Full coverage of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am