Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

GOLF

Kenny Perry wins FBR Open playoff

At 48, Perry gets through the thin and thick of it to defeat Charley Hoffman in a playoff at Scottsdale, Ariz. It's Perry's fourth PGA Tour title since June and his 13th title overall.

February 02, 2009|Chuck Culpepper

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Closing another rowdy and boozy and youthful golf week in the Valley of the Sun, a 48-year-old man who does not exactly possess a Camilo Villegas-like stomach watched his 22-foot putt plunk in from the fringe and leaped straight up.

He did not achieve a figure skater's gracefulness.

He did measure his athletic feat as "about a four-inch vertical jump."

Yet, when Kenny Perry heaved himself and his not-all-that-big belly airborne, he did so as a continually remarkable reminder that 48 just isn't as decrepit as it used to be. His win over 32-year-old Charley Hoffman on the third playoff hole of the FBR Open on Sunday brought his fourth PGA Tour win since June, and that doesn't even count his glorious Ryder Cup. It rocketed him to the early summit of the money list.

It gave him a 13th PGA Tour victory and inched him toward his stated goal of 20, even though he was joking when he said that.

"I set a goal out there that's probably unrealistic and unreachable, but yet here I am," Perry said. "I'm only seven away now, not eight. So you never know."

He's so ancient that when he told playing partners Kevin Na and Scott Piercy he'd played the last 22 Phoenix area tournaments in a row, Piercy said, "I've only played 23 Tour events."

On Thursday, he reminded playing partner Anthony Kim, 23, that he's younger than the daughter Perry just walked down the aisle to a groom in November. He keeps getting the question about the Champions Tour even though it sounds absurd. In his first PGA Tour event, he missed the cut in March 1984 at the Doral-Eastern Open, and Eastern Airlines has been extinct for 18 years.

Yet, in a singular Tour stop that drew 407,294 in a recession-year week and 60,245 on a "quiet" Super Sunday, and feels like a frat party gone amok especially at boisterous No. 16, a geezer smiled last to curb a spate of unfitting grimaces.

First came Perry himself, his face positively tortured on No. 18 after he clunked two approach shots and made bogey, having teed off ahead by one at 15 under par after a daylong cavalry charge in which no horse could make space. That plunged Perry into a tie with Hoffman, who'd already finished play after surging from eight under to 14 under, even though he'd just cringed through barely missing birdies from nine and eight feet on Nos. 17 and 18.

Next came Na, the 25-year-old from Seoul and Diamond Bar who has played FBR so beautifully -- a second place, a fourth and now a third -- that he says people have taken to calling him "Kevin Arizo-Na." Once trailing Perry by six strokes Sunday, he wound up with a face that looked downright wounded after his nine-foot putt on No. 18 nudged inches left to leave him at 13 under and out of the playoff.

"I'm going to win here someday," Na said. "Next year. I'm going to win here multiple times when my career is over, that's for sure."

After Na's grimace came serial contortions from Hoffman, the 2007 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic champion, and Perry, as they traded flubs on playoff holes Nos. 18, 10 and 17.

"The playoff was ugly," Perry said.

Both found sand from the 18th tee. Hoffman bounced one up the cart path beside No. 10 and lucked out when it wound up overlooking the green. Hoffman barely missed winning there and said, "Kenny gave me a few opportunities, I gave him a few opportunities, and he happened to close the door." Hoffman left his tee shot "plugged" in sand on No. 17. After saying hello to his ailing parents in Kentucky from the 17th fairway, Perry botched an agreeable approach from 85 feet to 22 feet.

With Hoffman having scrambled to three feet from par, just then Perry, who couldn't make a putt all day, suddenly sent one last try singing along until it "kind of just hugged right inside that right edge of the hole and sucked it down," he said. "Pretty nice way to win one" after winning from ahead in most of his others.

It dunked and he leaped. His wife of 27 years, Sandy, says she couldn't imagine him doing anything else at 48 even if she does advocate slight dietary improvements given how he "does love the fried chicken and biscuits and gravy and stuff."

But he safely can say, "The game has not passed me by yet." He can say, "I still hit it as far as anybody." And he also could have cited that at TPC Scottsdale's famous No. 16 stadium hole with all its young women in high heels and young dudes screaming, the best lifetime record belongs to one still-young Kenny Perry.

--

chuck.culpepper@yahoo.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|