Minnesota Golf Association

Records Fall as Perry Seeks Third Win in Final 3M Championship

August 4, 2018

By Nick Hunter
  BLAINE, Minn. – After undergoing shoulder last fall, Kenny Perry had his doubts whether he’d return to his status as one of the PGA Tour Champions top players, where he’s won nine times, including back-to-back 3M Championship titles in 2014 and 2015.
Looking back to his last victory at the U.S. Senior Open in 2016, Perry said, “I was thinking, is that going to be my last win or am I going to all of the sudden break loose and win 12 or 14 more times. Who knows?”
“I think when you sit out for six months and you don’t touch a golf club and you’re hurt, you have a lot of time to think. You think about what you did and what you were able to do. When you come back, are you capable of doing the stuff that you used to be able to do? I’ve come back stronger. I’m actually hitting it further now than I hit it when I left to have surgery.”
All indications are that Perry is back and potentially better than before as he tied a tournament-low Saturday, shooting a career-low 12-under par 60 to jump to the top of the leaderboard in search of his third victory at the 3M Championship and will enter Sunday’s final round with a five-stroke lead over Glen Day.
“I was very pleased with my 6-under yesterday. It’s always great to come back to a place you’ve had a lot of success at and really enjoy playing the golf course,” Perry said. “I was really blown away by the round today. It’s a confidence builder and tells me I can still do it and I’m not quite washed up yet.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge tomorrow—I’ve got to figure out how to shoot another good round tomorrow or they’ll catch me. I’ve got to regroup, reload and go get them.”
Carding a 6-under par 66 to open the championship Friday, Perry quickly went to work Saturday by sinking birdies on two of his first three holes. Following a birdie at the par-4 fifth, Perry holed out his approach from 106 yards for eagle at the sixth to jump to 11-under for the tournament.
After back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th holes, Perry knocked in a pair of 20-foot birdies at the 16th and 17th holes before nearly making double-eagle on the final hole as his ball rolled past the flagstick and stopped four feet above the cup.
Asked of his birdie-birdie-eagle finish, Perry said, “I was thinking on 18 that if I holed it, I was going to shoot 59—that was my only thought. I hit the prettiest 5-iron I could ever hit and when I heard everybody yell, I knew it was close. It was a great way to finish an incredible round of golf.
“I really don’t know what to expect because this is my eighth tournament back from surgery. I’ve been very erratic this year coming back. I might have a good round, but I’m liable to shoot a really high round and I haven’t had any consistency.
While his play might be considered unpredictable to someone who’s amassed over $32 mil in career earnings spanning back to 1987, Perry still leads the PGA Tour Champions this season in driving distance (300.8 yards) and enters the week third in greens in regulation percentage (77.50).
A pair of top-10 finishes this season has earned Perry over $300,000 in winnings and a strong finish Sunday will certainly improve his standing the Charles Schwab Cup Standings, which he currently sits at 38th.
Perry’s round Saturday tied defending champion Paul Goydos’ second round from a year ago as the tournament low. Perry set a new low for 36 holes at 126, previously set by R.W. Eaks in 2009 and Perry during his first win in 2014. Perry enters the final round with the largest margin over the field in tournament history and with a win Sunday, Perry would join Hale Irwin as the tournament's only three-time winners.
The Franklin, Ky., native entered the final round ahead of his win at the 2015 championship with a four-stroke lead and went on to win by a four-shot margin, but says this year presents another challenge for many reasons.
“That was different back then. In 2014 and 2015 I was playing the best golf I could play on the [PGA Tour Champions]. I was like Bernhard Langer—I had a chance to win every week. This year has been so erratic and bad. Confidence breeds confidence and I hadn’t had a lot of it. Yesterday’s round was a start and today was huge, but it’s always tough to back up a really low round with another good round,” he said.
Day, who entered the second round in second place tied with Perry and Lee Janzen, played his outward nine at 2-under par, but rolled in a birdie at the 11th hole and finished by birdying four of his final six holes to pull within five shots of Perry at 13-under par 131.
“Well, obviously it’s [Perry’s] tournament to win,” Day said Saturday. “For me to catch him, I’m going to have to shoot probably better than 65 and he’s going to have an off day. If he makes some putts and gets off to a good start, I don’t think anybody can catch him.
“As a group we didn’t get off to a good start. We were just making pars, it was real flat, nothing really going on. Got to the back nine and just played solid. Made a couple of putts and it just turned out what it was, [7-under]. But it’s so far behind Kenny, it’s not even funny.”
Alexandria, Minn., native and former University of Minnesota golfer Tom Lehman posted a second-round 66 Saturday to jump into contention, albeit nine shots off Perry’s lead at 126. Lehman’s round Saturday was highlighted by an eagle on the 18th hole to move to 9-under for the championship through 36 holes.
The 3M Championship will come to an end after 26 years Sunday, with final-tee times beginning at 7:40 a.m. at TPC Twin Cities.
7,164 YARDS, PAR 72
1. Kenny Perry, 66-60—126
2. Glen Day, 66-65—131
T3. Tom Gillis, 67-67—134
T3. Lee Janzen, 66-68—134
T3. Jerry Smith, 64-70—134
T6.  Jay Haas, 67-68—135
T6. Tom Lehman, 69-66—135
T6. Tim Petrovic, 70-65—135
 T6. Wes Short Jr., 67-68—135
T10. Joe Durant, 71-65—136
T10. Rocco Mediate, 68-68—136
T10. Scott Parel, 67-69—136
For complete tournament results go to: www.pgatour.com/champions/leaderboard.html

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