Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 8:52 AM

Kenny Perry - A Golf Winner for the Masses

It was another great finish yesterday at the Bay Hill Invitational. Kenny Perry emerged the victor after another charge from Vijay Singh.

To be honest, I never thought much of Mr. Perry. He's an old family guy with a hitchy swing. He coaches his kids' golf teams in the off-season. All well and good, but kinda boring.

But yesterday I became a Kenny P fan. It started when Kenny missed the fairway and the green at 15. You could feel the momentum shift as Singh trimmed Perry's three-shot lead to two. Kenny continued to leak oil on the par-5 16th with a chili-dipped chip that left him with a 28 feet putt. He saved par, but Singh birdied. Lead down to one.

The calm demeanor that Perry possessed throughout the tournament faded. You could see it on his face. His eyes widened and his crow's feet wrinkles deepened. Was it stress or was it focus? Probably both. But it was real. No fake smiles here. He played the best golf all week, and yet he was crumbling at the very last moment. It was the kind of thing that happens to all golfers: the wheels were falling off.

They fell completely off at the par-3 17th. Nerves took over and Kenny putted the ball 7 feet past the hole. Another shot lost. A 3-shot lead lost in 3-holes. The agony hit a chord with me and golfers around the world.

By the last hole, I think we were all rooting for Kenny. We all saw a little bit of ourselves in him. We saw that the psychological trauma of losing your game for no explicable reason could overtake the pros just as easily as it could overtake the rest of us. But we wanted Kenny to exorcise those demons. If he could do it, then maybe, just maybe, we could do it as well.

At the closing par-4 18th, both Kenny and Vijay hit beautiful drives. With 174 yards to the hole from a perfect lie in the fairway, Vijay hit first. His 7-iron looked perfect in the air on a direct line to the pin. But at its apex, the ball just stopped. It looked like it hit a wall as it dropped directly onto the rocks below and into the water. It was over. Kenny's wheels hopped back on and he won with a par.

The TV announcers claimed that it was a wind that halted Vijay's ball in midair. I say that it was divine intervention. Maybe golf karma? Did the golf gods use this opportunity to punish Vijay for his past? Whatever the reason, a win for Kenny was a win for us hackers. Oh, and be careful where you swing that sword Kenny, it's no sand wedge.

Blogger Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

Nicely written. Indeed, I agree. But I always root for the underdog, eh? Unless he's playing against Tiger...  


Blogger Bunker said...

I got to watch Kenny at Valhalla in '96(?) almost take the PGA. I'm glad to see his game on track.  


Blogger Jam Boy said...

I too root for the underdog. But the win for Kenny was exciting for me--because I just don't like Vijay. I mean, the guy works so hard on the range and he has definitely earned his spot in the top 4. But ever since that comment back in the day about despising the fact that Annika was entering the tournament at Colonial (he consequently dropped out of the tournament because of it)...and that lazy swing of his. I don't know. He just seems like a tool to me. But anyway, sorry, I blacked out for a second there. Yay for Kenny!  


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