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June 27, 2015

Kenny Perry


THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome Kenny Perry into the Media Center. Kenny with rounds of 70, 72, and 64 today, for a three-day total of 206. That's 6 under par. Kenny's playing his fourth U.S. Senior Open Championship. In 2013 in Omaha -- you started seven behind today, but in Omaha you were ten behind through 36 holes. Just like in Omaha, you shot a 64. Can you take us through a little bit of your round, starting on the 10th hole?

KENNY PERRY: You know, 10 is the short hole, but yet it's the hole, if you hit it in the rough, it's so easy to make bogey. I played a little softer today. I hit 5 iron off the tee and wedged it about 15 feet past. Finally got one in the hole right out of the gate, which was a nice feeling. I hadn't made many putts and hit a beautiful sand wedge on 11 to about four feet, and then I hit an 8 iron to about 15 feet on 12. I told the guys in my group, I birdied the first three holes, and I looked at them and said, well, I made more birdies on the first three holes than I have in the first two days. Then I think I parred the next hole, and then I birdied -- what was that, 14, 15, and 16, another three in a row. I hit a 5 iron to about 15 feet on the par 3, and then I hit driver, 3 wood, had 80 yards on the par 5, hit an L-wedge to about three feet. Then I hit a good drive and a 7 iron to about 25 feet and made a bomb on 16, which that is one tough hole. To come out of there with a birdie, I really knew it might be a special day. Then I parred 17, and then I hit a beautiful 4 iron to about eight feet behind the hole on 18, and it was a right edge putt. It was an easy putt, straight down the hill. I just knew I was going to make it. I pulled it just a smidge, and it missed left. It's just like took the wind right out of my sails. I was so sure and confident I was going to make that. When I missed it, it kind of startled me. Then I hit a 4 iron in the front bunker on 1 and blasted up to about three feet, four feet, and I missed that one. So next thing you know, the ball was going in the hole. I missed two easy ones. Could have been a very special round. Then I just played steady from there on and one birdie, one bogey. That front nine to me is tough. Both sides are. It's a great golf course.

THE MODERATOR: Still a very impressive opening nine for you. It's a 28. That ties the U.S. Senior Open record for lowest nine-hole score. You hit the ball a long way. Only hit 7 of 13 fairways today, but you are in the top four in driving distance. Got the putter going today too. 33 putts the first day, then 29, today just 26. How was the length able to help you, and rolling some putts in obviously contributed to the 64?

KENNY PERRY: Length is great if you keep it in the fairway out here. The rough is very penal. I drove it better today. I've been pulling my drive a little bit, and I kind of found something on the range working, and I was able to take it to the golf course, and it worked. I didn't pull my driver nearly as bad. I hit more fairways. Length has never been an issue with me. It's always been accuracy. And the putter got going. I hit the fairways. I hit it close in spots. Made a few putts and kept the momentum going. I got in position. All I want to do is stay with the leaders. There's going to be probably 10 or 12 guys that will have a chance to win this championship tomorrow. I need to kind of shoot another round like I did today.

Q. You did mention about pulling the drives and accuracy. Was it easier to manage your play today, despite the weather, the extreme temperatures the last couple of days?
KENNY PERRY: I told everybody, I was kind of in the rocking chair seat today. I'm 2 over, I'm seven behind. I'm on the opposite side of the leaders. I'm in a situation to where I can go for broke. I can either go and make a low round, or it really doesn't matter one way or another to me. It was a very relaxed round, I guess you'd say. Very comfortable out there for me. And then to get off to a quick start, to be able to birdie six of the first seven jumped me right back in this championship. When you're feeling no nerves, you're going for broke, you're very relaxed with the golf swing, and you're just pointing at targets, shooting at it, and the ball is going where you're looking, makes for a very comfortable day.

Q. What can you take from that experience two years ago at Omaha going into Sunday?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I did it. I know I did it once. Hopefully, I can do it a second time. I was ten behind starting that tournament, and I think I posted a pair of 64s on the weekend to win that championship. But that was -- I was in a very hot streak. I did that at the Senior Players a couple weeks prior. I shot a pair of 63s on the weekend to win the Senior Players and then to come to the U.S. Senior Open and shoot a pair of 64s on the weekend or whatever to win that championship. I'm a very streaky player. It just seems like, when I get it going, I'm not afraid to go low with it and to make lots of birdies. But I've really had an off year this year. I've played very poorly. I've been off on my game. Today was truly a bright spot to where maybe I'm starting to do things right again, to where maybe I can get in that comfort zone. Maybe I can get hot again and start shooting low rounds. It's just a tough golf course. Big golf course out there. I like it.

Q. Kenny, I was in St. Louis and you shot, I think it was a 66 at the Senior PGA there in the second round and kind of jumped into it. You said you've always been a streaky player. Do you feel that coming on? Do you find something on the range some days and just get a good feeling that you've got a really good round coming?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I don't know I'm necessarily going to have a low round coming, but I do work on things on the range, and I always try to take one thought to the golf course, one swing thought I always carry with me through the day, something that I was working on the range. I was telling Dave that I always keep my right foot down at impact. That was the way I was taught as a young boy. And I've been getting off my right side too fast, my hips have been opening too fast, and I've been pulling a lot of tee shots. So I kind of worked on that yesterday where I started keeping my right foot and focusing on keeping my foot down longer. And next thing you know, I'm not spinning so quick. I'm turning on top of the golf ball. Next thing you know, I'm starting to see the ball out of the window of my eye that I'm used to seeing it come out of it. So, yeah, that was one swing thought that I carried with me today, that I played with all day today, and I hit a lot of beautiful golf shots.

Q. Is that part of the challenge of golf is being able to retain that? How tough is it?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, it may not work tomorrow. The feelings that you have in golf and the sensations, that's why it's an evolving game. It changes each and every day. Your feel changes, your touch changes, your putter changes. It's amazing how you can shoot one low round, and the next day you wonder, all I did was go to sleep. It's only 24 hours later. What happened? But then again, you can have magic where you back it up, like I did in Omaha. You never know. It's a great game. It's humbling. It's the toughest thing I've ever tried to do. But it's definitely challenging, and I love the challenge each and every day you're out there.

Q. What does a bunched leaderboard like this typically reveal versus a lot of spread at the top?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I think this golf course has pretty -- even though it's a Senior Open, it has generous fairways, but the rough is terrible. Maybe when we play in the Open, the fairways are maybe tighter, the window is tighter out there. What I think, a lot of guys are hitting a lot of fairways, and the greens are so perfect. If you get the ball on line, you're going to make putts. It's firm around the greens on the chipping areas. To me, it's easier to chip here, except if you get it in the rough around the greens. So I just think all the guys are playing to the same spots. We're playing to the same part of the greens. And the golf course kind of tells you how you need to play it, which is what I enjoy. You look at last week, and you're like you could hit it anywhere last weekend on the PGA Tour, and the ball would boomerang around and come over. Where here, you don't have the luxury of that. You've got to hit quality golf shots. You've got to put it in certain areas on the greens, certain quadrants to give yourself chances to make birdies. But the short holes are really short out here, and the long holes are really long. So you look at 9 and 10, very short holes. 11's not a long hole. 12's a short par 3, which I think that will bring a lot of the players into the -- we kind of play in there, keep us closer together. Then you've got a couple of really long par 3s, and then the 16's really long, 18's a tough hole, 3's an unbelievable par 4. It's kind of a mix out there that I really think has kind of kept us pretty close together.

Q. Can you recall the last time you shot 28, and what were those circumstances?
KENNY PERRY: I don't think I ever did. I think this may be my first time in competition. But it's par 34. I've shot 6 under before on nine holes, but it didn't turn out to 28. It turned out to be 30.

Q. And you say, having done this before in Omaha, it will help your mindset going in. Do you have any idea of what your mindset will be tomorrow going out?
KENNY PERRY: No, not really. I just want to stay in that same framework. Today was very easy, very comfortable to me out there. I didn't have much nerves. I felt like I was playing a round of golf with my buddies. Just very relaxing, didn't have much spectators. It was just a round of golf -- you know, I got off to such a quick start, that it just really got me focused in and got me zoned in to really try to shoot a quality round today. Somehow I've got to recreate that tomorrow in one of the last few groups, or whatever group I'm in, and if I can recreate that feeling, hopefully, it will carry over, and we get off to a good quick, fast start and make a run for this thing.

Q. Kenny, you mentioned that swing key that you used today was from your early teacher, Norman Head. How long did he teach you, and what kind of a guy was he? It was back in Franklin?
KENNY PERRY: That's correct. Norman was a U.S. Navy man, came out in his Sansabelt pants, shirt perfectly pressed, hair perfect. I don't know what hairspray he used, just as white as it could be. I learned a lot of words from that man. It was his way or the highway, and he was very -- you're going to swing it this way. I'll tell you, I've never seen him break people down. I've seen a lot of girls would start crying right there in front of him. He was just a tough guy, but I loved him, and I understood what he was teaching. I heard something on TV, Tom Watson, they were talking about it. He said he went back to some of his old notes, and he's come across something he used to help him with his putting. It's funny. I've got old notes, and I started thinking about that. I was trying to go back in my head. I've been struggling this year. When Norman and I were going, what were we working on? Basically, we worked on ball position alignment, the pace of my backswing. He always wanted me to have a real slow, deliberate backswing, and he always wanted me to keep my right foot down at impact. Pretty simple stuff. So that's what I've carried with me. Norman passed away about 12 years ago, 15 years ago. So I'm always trying to carry -- remember his lessons when we'd get together. He was the kind, he had no -- we didn't have all this technology that the teachers have, Trackman and all that stuff. He would just get behind me. And within five minutes, he could tell me what I was doing wrong.

Q. How young were you when you started working with Norman?
KENNY PERRY: I was a freshman in college, 1978.

THE MODERATOR: Kenny, in Omaha, 64, 63 on the weekend. Let's see if we can do it again tomorrow.
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