July 10, 2013
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Mike Trostel. I'll be moderating today in the Media Center. Would like to welcome in Kenny Perry.
Kenny is a 14 time winner on the PGA Tour, three time winner on the Champions Tour, most recently winner of the Senior Players Championship, closing with rounds of 63, 63, and 64 to beat Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf by two.
Now, Kenny, you've really maintained a great level of competitiveness into your late 40s and now into your 50s. What do you attribute that to?
KENNY PERRY: Stubbornness, maybe. I tell everybody, I've learned everything late in life. I don't know, maybe I – I'm just a slow learner, I guess, because the best part of my career, when I was 48, I won three times on the PGA when I was 48 and twice when I turned 49, in 2008 and '09.
And now it's taken me a few years on the senior circuit, the Champions Tour. Nothing has come too easy for me. Just experience, time, patience. I've had to have a lot of patience. It's just my desire to want to try to always be the best playing on this Tour.
I love it. I love playing with these guys out here. I like playing with Hale Irwin and Tom Watson. These are the guys I looked up to, I idolized. And I love the camaraderie out here on this Tour. We have a great time. It's just a fun Tour to hang around.
THE MODERATOR: You've been playing well, and you've always been one of the longer hitters out – even on the PGA Tour and certainly on the Champions Tour, but it seems like what's put you, set you out and above the last couple of years has been your putting. It seems like it's really improved.
Can you talk about being a long hitter out here at this course at Omaha and hopefully how your putting, if it is good, will help.
KENNY PERRY: Definitely length is going to be a big advantage this week, but you've still got to hit the fairways. The rough is very penal out there. It's chip out rough. It's definitely set up for – it's got definitely a U.S. Open feel out there, with the greens as small as they are and undulating.
But my power, if I can keep driving it straight like I did at Fox Chapel, I like – I know Corey Pavin said on No. 8 he hit driver, driver and didn't get to the – it's a par 4. It's close to almost 500 yards. Well, I hit driver, 7 iron. If I can get it in the fairway, I've got a huge advantage this week.
I told my caddie that. I said, we got a great advantage and another great opportunity this week if we drive it well. The greens are very – with the heat and all, they're having to water the greens a lot. The greens are very receptive. They're going to hold anything you throw in there at it. To me, it's all going to be how well I drive the golf ball is how well I play this week.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up to the floor.
Q. What's with that 64 the last day? You were slumping. 63, 63.
KENNY PERRY: They rushed me on that last putt. They were getting ready to blow the horn on the lightning. They said, hurry up and putt it in and get out of there so we can blow the siren and get everybody off the golf course.
Q. With the hills out here and so forth, we are going to have a little bit of heat, maybe a lot, who knows? Is this as much a test of being in shape and perhaps an advantage being younger as it is hitting golf shots?
KENNY PERRY: Definitely. Youth will have an advantage this week. You definitely – this is my eighth week I've played out of the last nine. I've played – I've only had one week off in the last nine weeks. So I've kind of got myself worked into shape. I feel sorry for the guys – some of the club pros who worked the whole time behind the counter, and they come out here and try to walk this golf course. It's very mentally and physically demanding.
I flew in yesterday morning, teed off at 1:00 amidst that 110 or 115 heat index out there, and played 18. I was okay when I finished.
To me – you know, I had left knee surgery in February. I had a lot of problems just walking – there's a lot of steep descents out there from the tee box down to the fairway. That really aggravated my left knee. I was feeling a lot of pressure, a lot of pain, and that had me concerned.
So I didn't even play the back nine today. I played the front nine. So getting ready for tomorrow. Hopefully, I can just suck it up. I know I had a couple of downhill lies, like on the par 5, I had a downhill lie. I ended up almost topping the ball because it hurt my knee so much when I pushed into it and had all my weight on it. Definitely very challenging.
Q. Just follow up on that and say, would it be unusual to play the yardages where you didn't have to face a shot like that almost?
KENNY PERRY: Well, that would –
Q. Can you do that?
KENNY PERRY: I don't know if I know the golf course well enough to do that. You need some local knowledge here. You need to kind of – with two practice rounds, I don't know if you can kind of get a good feel for this place.
This is a golf course you need some time. For me, when I play well at golf courses, it's usually I've been there three or four years and kind of learned the nuances and learned how the golf course plays and all. But when you kind of come in here for a quick study, sometimes that's tough to kind of feel how you need to play, how you need to set up your course management, how you need to set up each hole.
I'm just going to hopefully have momentum on my side and strap it up tomorrow and just keep going like I've been going.
Q. Kenny, is there a hillier course on either the regular or the Senior Tours that you've seen?
KENNY PERRY: No. This is – I told somebody yesterday this is probably the hardest walking course I've ever been on. I played the Tour 27 years and a couple of years out here. It's the hilliest, just very demanding.
We don't have any –some of the courses we play that are pretty hilly, you get some good shuttle rides, cart rides from the green to the next one. You don't get none of that here. You're always coming off the green and walking 50 to 80 yards up the hill up to the next tee box, and then you're walking straight down and then back. Very physically demanding.
All the guys that will do well this week, I think, are going to be the guys who are in pretty good shape.
Q. How about the impact of getting a Major – Senior Major on the season and your career.
KENNY PERRY: Anything that has Major attached to it was always my one goal. I came so close at the PGA when Mark Brooks beat me in the playoff, and then I lost to Cabrera at the Masters on the PGA. It's still great – obviously, our Majors out here probably are not looked upon like they are on the PGA Tour, but yet they're still a Major. It still will be attached to your name.
It was a huge monkey off my back when I won. I had a three shot lead with six to play at the Senior PGA a month earlier, and I blew that one. It was finally nice to get that off my back. It was finally nice to say, hey, yeah, I was able to do it. I was able to make a couple of birdies on the last three holes coming down the stretch at the Players, beat Fred Couples, a Hall of Famer, beat a quality field. To me, that was awesome. That was a great feeling.
Q. What would it be like to validate with a win here?
KENNY PERRY: Well, it would just be another – just – it would be incredible really. To me, I always looked at the USGA and PGA as two of my biggest tournaments. Me being a golf course owner, the PGA was always my number one tournament I always tried to win because I understand, with all the men and women who push our sport and grow the game, golf course owners, to me, the PGA of America was huge. It was always very important to me. Me being a golf course owner, I understand that.
Growing up through the ranks, I worked at a club, was an assistant pro, and I've done all that. So I understand what these guys, you know, what they do. To win your National Open, that's your number one tournament. To have that associated with your name would mean the world to me.
Q. What score would you take this week?
KENNY PERRY: Somebody asked me that yesterday, and I don't have a feel for this place. I don't know if it's going to be – is 3 under going to win or 12 under going to win? I don't think it will be no more than – I don't know – I don't think it's going to go really high, but I think it will be 7 to 12 under will probably win this tournament.
Q. Kenny, do you think, because of the necessity of local knowledge, so much of it perhaps here, that it could lead to a long shot type winner, or do you think it will be somebody who comes in here with a strong record?
KENNY PERRY: I think it will be a strong player, I really do. I think it will be somebody – the long shot could win if he's a power player. I think the length is going to be a huge advantage this week, if he can get it on the fairway.
I'm not going to say anything – I'm a long shot. I've been out here this long, and to come where I came from in life and to be as successful as I have – you know, I've had this quirky golf swing. I've made it work. I'm not going to put anything on anybody. It's open to anybody.
I still think you'll see one of your veteran players come out on top this week.
Q. Kenny, with all the success you had late in your PGA Tour career, how do you balance which schedule you're going to go to?
KENNY PERRY: I'm still fully exempt on the PGA Tour through '14, next year, and then I have a top 50 and a top 25 all time money I could use, which would give me three more years I'm fully exempt on the PGA Tour.
That's a great question, and I'm still trying to figure that out. How much do I play on the PGA as opposed to what I play on the Champions? I still have a lot of good friends on the PGA. I still feel like I can compete and win out there.
I did okay at The Greenbrier last week. I had – I was in great shape after two rounds. I had a bad Saturday last week to knock me out of that tournament.
You know, I guess it's just more of a gut feeling. Now that I won the Players, they put me number one on the Charles Schwab Cup. At the end of this year, I was going to start the 2014 series in the PGA and play in the fall – I was going to play all those events.
But now since I'm where I'm at on this Tour, I may end up going back to the SAS and the Rock Barn and play those now when originally I wasn't going to do that. I still don't know how to answer your question. I'm still tossing up balls and throwing dice. I don't know what to do exactly.
It's easy to go to places I like, I enjoy. My wife has a good time. I bring my kids. So that takes me to the PGA a lot of times.
Q. Kenny, related to that, was there anything in the back of your mind, the front of your mind, or anywhere in your mind to play more this way and maybe try to get on Fred's Presidents Cup team, since you had such great success at Muirfield Village?
KENNY PERRY: I told Fred, hey, I won there three times. I've been in his ear since he's been nominated captain again, and he just laughs like, oh, yeah, right. I'm not going to pick you.
It was a thought in my head, definitely. I definitely think I could help that team there at Muirfield, as much knowledge and as much success as I've had there.
I did play the PGA event there this year and missed the cut. I was thinking, maybe I shouldn't come. It was set up rough. The greens were 14 on the Stimpmeter. The rough was up. It played tough, which I think will be to our advantage.
I hope they speed the greens. I think our guys do better under faster, firmer conditions than the slower greens. I think we do better on faster surfaces. I hope they play it like they had the tournament set up.
Q. That said, Kenny, I mean, if you were to win this week and win a few more Champions Tour events between now and Fall, do you think that would get his attention?
KENNY PERRY: I think he – not really. I don't think I would be in consideration of being picked on that team. I think that would put him under a lot of pressure, you know, if he went outside the box and picked a Senior Tour guy over a regular guy. I really would.
I don't think Fred likes being under the pressure. Even though he's cool and laid back and he looks like he's never sweaty, I know his insides are churning.
Q. You've got the length for it still.
KENNY PERRY: I still hit it far enough. Hey, I had the long drive last week. I hit it 342, and then Jimmy Walker hit it 340 and outdrove me. I was going to stick it in. I was going to aggravate every one of them.
Q. Kenny, for those of us who don't regularly follow the Tour or the Champions Tour, what kind of crowds are these for practice rounds? When you heard that the tour was coming to Omaha, Nebraska, what was your reaction?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I knew it was sold out, and I knew this was – this feels more like a PGA event than a Champions Tour event. I mean, with all the spectators in the gallery, I've had a lot of people very impressed with the turnout here in Omaha.
But my thought was this was going to be a flat golf course. Honestly, I mean, Nebraska, you think flat and hot. Well, I got the hot part right, but it's the hilliest golf course I've ever been on.
So I'm very impressed. I'm very impressed with the turnout, with the people. Omaha, they've done a great job bringing excitement to this tournament. They're going to get a good show this week. The guys are going to show up.
When you get to hang out with Watson and all these guys, you see them on the range, that's pretty cool.
Q. Does this give you guys a little jolt too, a little extra energy? You could hear roars on the weekend echoing through the pines?
KENNY PERRY: Definitely. When you hear loud roars – I played The Greenbrier last week, and when I started hearing those roars, I thought, we don't hear that a lot on Champions Tour. We're going to have that this week. It's got a very PGA Tour feel to it this week as opposed to a Champions event.
THE MODERATOR: I would like to thank Kenny very much. Kenny, 8:24 off the 10th tee with Jeff Sluman and Eduardo Romero.
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