Minnesota Golf Association

Perry Grinds His Way to Record-Tying Third Win at Final 3M Championship

August 5, 2018

 
 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  BLAINE, Minn. – After 26 years, the PGA Tour Champions’ regular stop in the Twin Cities came to an end Sunday with the final round of the 3M Championship. And while it may be the last time the golf fans across the state get to see the best senior golfers in the world, Sunday’s winner Kenny Perry made it clear that he isn’t going anywhere.
 
“I’ll be back—I’m going to play. I’m going to use my [top-50 career earnings exemption], so you’ll see me back here,” Perry said Sunday as the tournament will give way to a regular PGA Tour event beginning next July. “It’s nice to be the last winner on that trophy. Three-time winner in 10 years—I had a great run. I had one year out of the top-10. It’s an incredible journey; this golf course fit me to a T. I hate that they’re going to change it next year because it’s going to be so long.”
 
Rolling in his eight-foot birdie putt on the 54th and final hole of the championship at TPC Twin Cities Sunday, Perry carded a final-round 69 to claim his third win in the past five years, joining Hale Irwin as the tournament’s only three-time winners.
 
Asked what it means to join exclusive company with a three-time U.S. Open champion, Perry said, “Honored, you know, incredible. That’s one of the greatest players of all time. A hall of famer and 40-something wins on the [PGA Tour Champions] and one of the best ever to play out here.”
 
Setting a number of tournament-bests this week, Perry tied a tournament-low Saturday with a 12-under par 60 and set a new 36-hole mark of 18-under par 128. A week shy of his 58th birthday, Perry also becomes the oldest player to win the championship.
 
Carrying a five-shot lead into Sunday’s final 18 holes, Perry played his opening nine at even par, and at the par-5 sixth hole, would make his first bogey since the fifth hole of the opening round Friday. A second straight bogey at the par-4 seventh after a three-putt resulted in Perry’s lead dwindling to one, but Perry would card three birdies over his final seven holes to earn a three-shot victory over Wes Short Jr.
 
“I’m ecstatic—I was very nervous today. It’s hard to go out with a five-shot lead and be the hunted instead of being the hunter. I didn’t want to give it away; I didn’t want to play too aggressive and I didn’t want to play too safe. I knew this golf course gives up low scores and if I played too safe, somebody was going to catch me.”
 
“It’s a bad spot to be in, actually. But I’ve got to be thankful for my birdie-birdie-eagle finish—that won me the tournament on Saturday.”
 
Still recovering from shoulder surgery last November, Perry said one of his biggest challenges this season has been the fact that he’s unable to practice and get repetitions.
 
“I would’ve loved to hit a bunch of balls after the round yesterday and hone in what I was doing. I had a lot of good, positive vibes and positive thoughts. I was too afraid to do that, I didn’t want to come out today sore and hurting.”
 
With a two-shot lead walking up the 18th fairway in en route to his second win in 2015, Perry elected to blast his second shot into the grandstands behind the final green to get a free drop, needing only to get up-and-down for par to win the tournament.
 
Facing a similar situation Sunday, Perry opted to play it safe and not press his luck, playing his second into the fairway left of the water, leaving a 100-yard wedge into the final green.
 
“I knew I had a two-shot lead on 18, so I laid it up left and knew I could make bogey and still win the golf tournament, so that’s always a nice feeling,” Perry said. “I could see myself hitting one of those poles dead on and come ricocheting back across the green and into the water or something. I knew I could make a six and win the tournament, so I wasn’t going to do anything stupid and try to be the hero. I wanted to play smart and win the golf tournament.”
 
Earning his first victory of the 2018 season in his 10th start, Perry now amasses over $565,000 in earnings for the season. His previous best finish this year was a tie for fifth at the Insperity Invitational in early May.
 
Rolling in five birdies over his first nine holes, Short looked as if he was going to challenge Perry for the top spot on the leaderboard, but Perry’s five-stroke lead to begin the day proved to be too much for Short as four more birdies over his final nine holes came three shots shy of the three-time champion Perry.
 
“Last year I shot 62 in the last round and three years ago I shot 62 in the last round,” Short said Sunday. “I knew catching Kenny was probably out of the question, but I thought maybe I could get second with a good round today.
 
“I hit some good shots on 16 and 17 and just didn’t convert. I kept it in play most of the time and it was one of those days where the putter worked. It was no really different than the other two days, but for some reason the putts were going in today. If we could figure that out, we’d all be rich.”
 
With a final-round 69 Sunday, Alexandria, Minn., native and former University of Minnesota golfer Tom Lehman notched a top-10 finish at 12-under par 204, his best finish since 2015 when he placed sixth.
 
The tournament began as the Burnet Senior Classic in 1993 and was played at Bunker Hills Golf Club until 2000. Renamed the 3M Championship in 2001, the tournament has been played at TPC Twin Cities for the last 18 years. Over the past 26 years, the tournament has raised more than $26 million for cancer and heart research, as well as built and improved emergency rooms across the Twin Cities.
 
In June, a highly-anticipated announcement confirmed that the Twin Cities would be a new stop on the PGA Tour as the 3M Open will be played July 4-7 in 2019 at TPC Twin Cities.
 
Beginning Tuesday, the course will begin its transformation to accommodate the world’s best players as the course will undergo a number of changes, mainly by adding length and narrowing fairways.
 
Specifically, the course will start the construction of nine new championship tees, adjusting fairways on 13 of the 14 par-4 and par-5 holes in an attempt to enhance tee shot strategy and construction of three new bunkers, while modifying four current bunkers.
 
The par-5 18th hole, which has provided plenty of drama at the championship over the past 18 years, will see the water become more of a factor when the PGA Tour begins play next July.
 
The 3M Open will be the first official PGA Tour event since the PGA Championship in 2009 at Hazeltine National Golf Club, as well as the first regular stop in the state since the Minnesota Golf Classic was last played at Keller Golf Course in St. Paul.
 
In a first for the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, TPC Twin Cities is the only course to transition from a Champions Tour event to a PGA Tour event, keeping the same sponsor and facility.
 
 
 
2018 3M CHAMPIONSHIP
TPC TWIN CITIES
BLAINE, MINN.
7,164 YARDS, PAR 72
 
 
FINAL RESULTS
1. Kenny Perry, 66-60-69—195
2. Wes Short Jr., 67-68-63—198
T3. Glen Day, 66-65-70—201
T3. Tom Gillis, 67-67-67—201
T5. Tim Petrovic, 70-65-68—203
T5. Lee Janzen, 66-68-69—203
T5. Kevin Sutherland, 67-70-66—203
T5. Bob Estes, 72-65-66—203
T5. Joe Durant, 71-65-67—203
T10. Scott Hoch, 70-69-65—204
T10. TOM LEHMAN, 69-66-69—204
T10. Scott Parel, 67-69-68—204
 
 
For complete tournament results go to: www.pgatour.com/champions/leaderboard.html


 


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