Kenny Perry won ten times on the PGA TOUR between 2003-2009, and has a total of 14 TOUR wins. At the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla, Perry lost in a playoff to Mark Brooks, and described the loss as a “heartache.” He is currently playing on the Champions Tour where he has seven career wins, including three majors.
At the pre-tournament press conference, Perry, who was given an exemption to play in his home state of Kentucky, reflected upon his borderline Hall of Fame career.
“You know what, you always look back. I think everybody, human nature will say, what if; what if I would have made a par here on 18 in ’96 and I would have won the PGA Championship? What if I would have parred 17 or 18 at Augusta and I would have won the green jacket [in 2009]?
But then again, you know, why not? They were blows in my career. If I would have had those two majors, you could look at my career as a Hall of Fame career. I would have won 16 times with two majors. That would probably have been close to a Hall of Fame career. I mean, Freddie Couples gets in with 15 wins and one major. I was that close to getting in the Hall of Fame, I guess you could say, in a sense, but yet it made me stronger.
You can look at that two ways. You can either fold up and kick the dog, whatever, be sorry about yourself and go on; but I didn’t look at it that way. I love playing golf. love competing, and I love providing for my family. It’s been a great career. I’ve met a lot of people along the way. I’ve traveled the world. The experiences are what I call scrapbooking. You’ve got all these things in your life that’s made you who you are in your life.
Yeah, those are some downtimes, but yet I’ve had a lot of great times and a lot of wins. I’ve won 14 times on the regular TOUR, and now I’ve got seven wins on the Champions Tour. I’ve had way more ups than I’ve had downs, and not a lot of guys can really say that playing golf.”
As a full-time player on the Champions Tour, Perry is able to spend a lot of time with his grand kids:
“You know what, Sandy (Perry’s wife) and I keep them every Tuesday. What’s great about the Champions Tour is that on Tuesdays I don’t have to really show up to the Champions Tour. I fly out on Wednesday, Thursday is the Pro AM, and Friday, Saturday, Sunday is the tournament. So Tuesday is the day to keep the grand kids.
I have a three‑year‑old boy and one‑year‑old granddaughter. I don’t know how I had that much energy. I had three kids under three at one time, and I’m telling Sandy, my wife, I don’t know how we did this. Chasing them all over the place, it’s just been a treat for me, to help my kids, to help get them in the right paths to raise their children.”
This week, Perry is coming off a win at the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour. Don’t be surprised if he contends at Valhalla because he still has the length to compete with the best players in the world:
“I just want to be competitive. If I can somehow make the cut and get out there ‑‑ I’m excited about my pairing. I have Henrik Stenson and Ryan Moore, and then I have Bubba and Rory and Martin Kaymer right behind me, and I have Tom Watson right in front of me. So they throw me right in the mix of all the great players, so Kentucky is going to see me either have a lot of nerves ‑‑ hopefully I can enjoy it and soak it all in, and whatever happens, happens.
I’m not trying to be the best golfer in the world anymore. I’m just trying to enjoy each and every moment I’ve got, and that’s just kind of how I’m approaching this week.”
Seems like Perry has the perfect combination of perspective and ability. “I’ve had heartache in ’96, when Mark Brooks beat me in a playoff. And then to be on the winning Ryder Cup Team [at Valhalla in 2008] under Paul Azinger, ecstatic. My Dad, at 86 years old, coming off the green in his bib overalls and giving me a hug, it was pretty special for a father and son.
Then I played ‑‑ I believe the 2011 Senior PGA was here. You know, this is home. This is where I love to go, and to me, this is the pinnacle of golf in Kentucky and just excited for the opportunity to go out the back door one more time, as they say, one more time.”
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)