Kenny Perry, shown here in a file photo, won the 3M Championship for a third time on Sunday. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
By John Strege
Tournaments that end on Sunday generally aren’t won on Saturday, as Kenny Perry demonstrated in the final round of the 3M Championship. Most of the five-stroke lead he began the day vanished early, requiring he work hard to close out his 10th PGA Tour Champions victory.
Nothing has been particularly easy for Perry this year, save, perhaps, for the 12-under par 60 he shot at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., on Saturday. He sweated out a three-under par 69 in the final round to win by three over Wes Short Jr., his third victory in the event.
“I hate being the guy being hunted,” he said. “I felt very tight the first nine holes. I was uneasy, just didn’t feel good out there. I kept thinking, ‘you blow a five-shot lead, they’ll be talking about you.’
“But I felt good coming in. I’ve only played eight events or so. My year’s been in disarray. I’m so sporadic. I can’t practice enough because I hurt with all this. I don’t have enough reps in me. I just physically cannot practice the way I used to where I can continue to hit the golf shots I’m trying to hit.”
Perry, 57, did not start his season until mid-April, the result of off-season shoulder surgery that contributed to a loss of confidence. This, in fact, was his 10th start of the season, and before Sunday’s victory, his best finish had been a tie for fifth.
“I’m just ecstatic to get back in the winner’s circle,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d ever get back in it, to tell you the truth. Confidence is so fleeting in the game of golf. It can come and then it can leave fast. I just didn’t have any. To shoot 60 yesterday was a breath of fresh air.”
The five-shot lead over Glen Day with which he began the round dwindled to won after the seventh hole, where Perry had made a second straight bogey. But he did not make another bogey and birdied four of his last 10 holes.
“I had a lot of pressure on me today,” he said. “I free-wheeled it yesterday. I was lucy-goosey, just cutting it loose and having the time of my life. And today I couldn’t hardly breathe, couldn’t hardly draw it back. I don’t know how I shot 69, I really don’t.”