Perry still trying to prove a point

By Associated PressJuly 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' For more than two decades, no one ever paid much attention to Kenny Perry unless he happened to be holding the trophy at the end of the week. Few players have won 12 times and nearly $26 million so quietly.
But there is no avoiding the attention now.
Perry has won three times in his last six starts, with two other top 10s. What brought him as many headlines, however, was his decision to skip the British Open and stick to his original road map that would lead him to the Ryder Cup in his native Kentucky.
He was vilified for turning his back on a chance to win a major, and even some of his fellow Americans privately expressed disdain that Perry would duck the best players in the world. More amazing than a 47-year-old making the Ryder Cup team is that Perry has done this without having played in three majors or two World Golf Championships.
But instead of the spotlight causing him to cower, it has emboldened him.
Ive always run from it, to tell you the truth, Perry said Wednesday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Ive always been trying to hide from attention. But this year, for some reason, I feel like I can prove a point. It may not happen. I may fall flat on my face that week. It may be too much pressure, too much burden that I cant handle it. I dont know.
But Im still going to enjoy it.
In his new role as a maverick, Perry is among the favorites at Firestone when the $8 million WGC event begins on Thursday with 80 players from around the world who qualified by winning select tournaments, being among the top 50 in the world or having played in the most recent Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team.
It will be the first significant event at Firestone without Tiger Woods since 1996, when he was winning his third straight U.S. Amateur. Woods is the three-time defending champion at the Bridgestone Invitational, where he has won six times.
Everybody will just move up one place from where they finished in the past, Stewart Cink said of Woods absence as the worlds No. 1 player recovers from season-ending knee surgery.
Padraig Harrington will be making his first start since winning the British Open at Royal Birkdale. Phil Mickelson, who won at Firestone in 1996 when it was the World Series of Golf, is energized about the final two months of the season.
Perry is considered among the favorites, and for good reason.
A streaky player his entire career, his fortunes began turning with a fluke loss in Atlanta, when his fairway metal to the 18th green on the TPC Sugarloaf ricocheted off a tree, across the green and into the water during a playoff.
I didnt get too down on it because I knew my game was coming back to where I was getting competitive again, he said.
Two weeks later, he won the Memorial. Four weeks later, he won the Buick Open. And then he made it two straight victories when he won the John Deere Classic.
The buzz with Perry turned out to be the tournament he didnt play.
Kenny Perry is his own guy, Cink said. He didnt want to go to the British, so he didnt go. In a way, you have to admire that. He didnt back down and change his schedule. But who knows how many more chances Kenny is going to have to win the British Open?
Through all criticism, Perry has found some comedy.
In 22 years, nobody has ever cared where I played golf, Perry said with a laugh.
The difficult part now is paying attention to the five tournaments he plays before the Ryder Cup. It starts with the Bridgestone Invitational, on a South Course at Firestone that is much tamer than last year.
Instead of rough up to the ankles, which caused shots to squirt sideways and left only one player under par, the rough is a moderate 3 inches and rain has softened the fairways and greens.
Perry has never won a WGC event, although he came close three years ago when he had a two-shot lead over Woods at the turn, only to bogey five out of six holes and tie for sixth.
I got the fist pumps put on me, Perry said.
These days, he is getting more than just fists. Perry has relished in the reaction from some of the players who are trying to capture the potion that has enabled him to win so much this summer. They are touching him for luck, even rubbing his golf clubs.
Its just been magical to have it fall together the way it did, Perry said.
The most meaningful praise has come from Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, one of the few who had no qualms with Perry skipping the British Open to play in Milwaukee.
Hes in a great place in his life, Azinger said Wednesday. Hes second on the money list, he has a chance to win the FedExCup, hes playing in the Ryder Cup. Most guys who get to this age are having a mid-life crisis. He could win the money title.
Perry has digested all the criticism over the last month about his British Open absence and turned it into motivation that he hopes will last through the Ryder Cup.
I love stuff like that, he said. I love when people tell me I cant do something, because Im going to prove you wrong. Im kind of a low-key, easygoing guy, and I need stuff like that. When I get something burning in my belly a little bit, it just inspires me to work a little bit hard. And at my age, I need that.
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    Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

    Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

    Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

    “It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

    The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.

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    “I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

    A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

    “I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

    He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

    “It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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    Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

    Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

    “It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”

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    The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

    He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

    Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

    “I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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    Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

    Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

    Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

    All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

    “This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”

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    Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

    “It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

    Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

    “Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

    Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

    “My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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    Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

    We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

    Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

    If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

    It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

    Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.