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July 30, 2008

Kenny Perry


CHRIS REIMER: Kenny Perry, thanks for joining us. You said outside you've never seen this interview room before. I'm guessing that means maybe you haven't played that well at this golf course.
KENNY PERRY: Actually I have. I was in the last group last year with Tiger on Sunday, and a couple years ago I was in the last group with him again. I got the fist pumps put on me (laughter).
But I don't remember coming in here. I don't know if this was here or not.

Q. Once there was a rain delay. I know you were here for a half hour.
KENNY PERRY: Maybe that's what it was. I just don't remember it.
CHRIS REIMER: I also heard you mention it was your 26-year wedding anniversary today.
KENNY PERRY: That's right, 26 years today.
CHRIS REIMER: Opening comments obviously about this tournament.
KENNY PERRY: I love this tournament. The golf course is great. It's such a long, powerful golf course, and it just fits right into the strength of my game.
You've got to drive the ball great here. I always look forward to coming here. It's a tough tournament to get into to qualify for, but I always have a great time when I'm here. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and it's just been a wonderful season for me with three wins. You know, it's just been magical to have it fall together the way it did.
You know, I set a plan out, I set a goal out, and actually it was a dream more than a goal, and to be able to achieve it at my age, I turn 48 next week, and it's been pretty special. I've got a lot of guys rubbing on me, touching my clubs. It's pretty funny, everybody wants to talk to me now. After 22 years nobody really seemed to care, now all of a sudden everybody is bothering me (laughter).

Q. What has been the key to your success this year --
KENNY PERRY: Putting. I guess you heard the story on my putter. A guy gave it to me early in the year. Looked me straight in the eye and said, "You need to use this putter, it's going to help you." I was like, "yeah, right." Sure enough, won $4.4 million with it or whatever in three tournaments. Whatever it is, I don't know if it's the optics of it. The only thing I do know the difference with this putter, it's got the deadest face I've ever hit. When you hit it, it doesn't go anywhere. For me I've got that pop in my stroke, and with that Rossi it would get away from me, I'd hit it eight feet past the hole. This putter I can be really aggressive with it, I can just swat it and it's not going anywhere. I can be really confident, and that's helped me more than anything.

Q. So say a year ago, I know you had the knee issue and stuff, but were you hitting it well and just not making anything? Is that the difference?
KENNY PERRY: No, I played -- knee surgery in March of '06 and played horrible in '06, and in '07 I was still struggling with it. Now my knee feels pretty good. This whole year it's felt pretty good. I've had no problems, it doesn't twitch or twinge. It doesn't catch where it grabs me. It's been great this year.

Q. I can't remember, I know you missed Bay Hill when you had the knee surgery. It was your right knee, correct?
KENNY PERRY: Right knee.

Q. And you presumably had some -- what was the procedure?
KENNY PERRY: It was a torn -- he went in there, I had a torn MCL and a meniscus. My meniscus was torn pretty bad he said. So he went in there and cleaned all that up. The other one just had to fix on its own, heal on its own. Pretty minor, just scoped it. It was no big deal, and I thought I'd be out and going in two weeks. But it just never healed fast, for whatever reason, if I was a slow healer or whatever. I felt pain. And it got to where I was helping it. I was trying to help it on my golf swing, and I got into some terrible swing habits.

Q. That's what I was going to ask.
KENNY PERRY: After all these years my right knee forgot what to do. After swinging one way my whole life and then having a surgery, I could not get my right knee to do the same thing it had always done. It just lost its memory, lost its mind. My knee would always turn in and go to the target. I could not get it to do that. It would just stay locked in straight up, and it wouldn't turn and wouldn't move, so consequently I'd throw my hands at the ball.

Q. And turn it over?
KENNY PERRY: And hit pull hooks. That's all I could do was hit a pull hook. So for a year and a half I fought that.

Q. How long were you out after the surgery?
KENNY PERRY: I came back --

Q. Too soon?
KENNY PERRY: Bay Hill was my week to defend that tournament. I had the surgery and I won Colonial, also, in '05, so that was my first tournament back was Colonial, and it was too soon.

Q. I don't know the putter story, sorry. Who was this guy who looked you dead in the eye?
KENNY PERRY: Paul Hargarten, he's a member at Vero Beach Country Club. I go down there in the springtime and practice, just getting ready for the tournament, for the Florida Swing and stuff. I'll sneak in there. I used to work at Pine back in 1983 and '84, I was the bag boy down there. So they gave me an honorary membership there, so I always go in there and practice in the fall, and I come back for the Florida Swing.
I was just on the putting green messing around and he just came up and gave it to me.

Q. You've had some years, and you've talked about this a lot, where the light comes on, whether it was '03, I think '91 was another year, where you win in bunches. Was there a time this year where you knew it was coming, for example, before you won Memorial?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I didn't know it was going to come like this, but when I hit the tree in Atlanta and it ricocheted way back and come across -- I was kind of upset at the time, but when I sit back and look at it, but I think about it and I told people, I'll be back. I didn't get too down on it because I knew my game was coming back to where I was getting competitive again.
I am a very streaky player. I don't know why, but when I win one, it just seems like I'm going to win another one.
I've never understood that. I don't know why. And then all of a sudden I'll disappear for four or five months and I can't seem to recapture the same magic. But it just seems like that confidence, when I get that feeling, that killer instinct, it just breeds success.

Q. I had just a quick follow-up. I'm curious how you felt about playing in the '04 Ryder Cup. And the reason I ask that is that you did a lot of your points gathering in that great year of '03, and if I recall --
KENNY PERRY: I was off in '04. I wasn't playing very well.

Q. To contrast that with how you played in South Africa and how much you're looking forward to it based on what's going on this year?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, I was playing great in South Africa in the Presidents Cup. I was 4-1 there and then I was 0-2 in the Ryder Cup. You're right. To me I'm looking more forward toward the leadership role of this team, to help out, I think, for the Ryder Cup, because I have prepared myself to do well that week. I've thrown everything out on the table. I've stuck my neck out there, I'm laying it on the line, this is all I've got.
I feel like this is my last shot, to tell you the truth, at my age. It may not be, but just to be at home, in front of everybody, it's going to be a special week for me. It's going to be magical.

Q. Have you ever felt this much attention?
KENNY PERRY: Never. I've never had this kind of attention.

Q. And asked for it, put it on yourself, so to speak?
KENNY PERRY: I've always run from it, to tell you the truth. I've always been trying to hide from attention. But this year, for some reason, I feel like I can prove a point this year. It may not happen, I may fall flat on my face that week. It may be too much pressure, too much burden that I can't handle it, I don't know. But I'm still going to enjoy it. My dad is going to be there. We've got a special exempt for him to ride in a golf cart on each hole. He's 85 years old. He hasn't got to see me play -- I don't know the last time he was at a golf tournament. He's gotten kind of feeble and he doesn't get around as good. But I'm going to have all my family there. It's just going to be a neat week.

Q. Now that you have achieved the goal -- you set out for a goal and achieved it. How has the mindset changed this week and with a major next week, have the goals changed at all? You're not fighting to make the team, now you're fighting to win some more.
KENNY PERRY: I wish the Ryder Cup was next week, to tell you the truth (laughter). I mean, I've got to somehow keep it going. Paul Azinger called me. He says, "Don't get complacent. Somehow keep your game sharp. You've got two more months to do this." It came too fast. I don't know if I peaked too early or not here. I hope not. But it's a good point, and I've got to somehow stay focused each and every week. I've got to figure out a way to stay competitive to where when I come into Valhalla I'm ready to spit nails.

Q. When you mentioned at the beginning that these guys are touching you, like trying to get the luck to rub off or whatever, are these young guys, or is it just like --
KENNY PERRY: It's all of them, everybody. I'm getting like Ernie Els rubbing on me today (laughter).
It's been interesting.

Q. How does it feel to be considered like the hottest guy.
KENNY PERRY: Well, that's a first-time deal. '03 was pretty special. A lot of guys were talking to me and stuff. But it seems like it's more this year for some reason. I've gotten more attention from it. I think it's from the Ryder Cup deal, too, so it's a combination of everything.

Q. What about next week? Do you think you've got a chance over there?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I think so. PGA has always been my best major. For whatever reason, I've always played great in the PGA. I've only missed one cut in all the years I've played in the PGA, I think I'm 12 out of 13 or something like that making the cut in the PGA. It's always been an event I've always kind of hung around in. And hopefully I can kind of hang around and then do the Sunday thing.

Q. With Phil earlier today, people were asking him a lot of questions about trying to get the identity of the PGA and how it differed from other tournaments. I mean, apparently it's the tournament of the four majors that you really are attracted to.
KENNY PERRY: Well, for one thing, it's what I am. I'm a golf course owner. PGA of America is golf. I mean, you look at all the PGA club pros on there who promote the game of golf. To me it is kind of the heart and soul. The Masters and the Open and the British Open, they're all -- it's kind of more self-gratification -- it's more for the individual, to me I've always thought, where the PGA was more for the whole, for the group, for everybody.

Q. Do you feel like you have something to prove given your Ryder Cup experience there a few years ago?
KENNY PERRY: Not really. I had a bad experience at the Ryder Cup. It just wasn't any fun for me at all that week. That's another reason why I want to get back, because I'm going to have a good time this time. We got beat so bad, 18 and a half to 9 or 91/2 or whatever. That was terrible. There wasn't a lot of smiling going on in that locker room. It was tough.
That's kind of another reason why I'm focusing towards -- I think guys are going to have a good time, and I'm going to try to make it my point to make sure everybody has a good time.

Q. You told us when you won the Memorial you were going to go to Finley Country Club for the day.
KENNY PERRY: The next day I did the outing for Taylor Made, yes.

Q. And it just struck me that that must be odd to do that the day after you win a tournament. Can you just talk about that day a little bit?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I had to give Taylor Made four days a year, and that was the day they chose. Who would have known I would have won the tournament? We already had all this planned out before I played the Memorial, so it just happened to be lucky for them that I ended up having a great week at the Memorial.
We had a good day. There was a lot of people out there, did a little clinic. I hit on a par-3 for everybody on that one hole and shook a lot of hands and signed a lot of autographs. They seemed to appreciate it, so I had a good time.

Q. What's the mood like in Kentucky right now?
KENNY PERRY: Very excited.

Q. I'm just wondering whether they even notice that Tiger is not going to play, or whether they're so gung-ho over this thing that it wasn't going to -- it might be the one place where it doesn't make that much difference?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I think it's always going to make a difference, but Kentucky is starved for golf. We have such little events there where they can kind of show up and be a part of. I thought the '96 and 2000 PGA were excellent. I thought the fans were great, the galleries were great, good turnout, easy in and out for the traffic and get everybody, all the fans around. I thought they did a wonderful job.
I talked to a lot of the people and friends, and they said they had a great time. It's cool looking at those big brown signs that say home of the 2008 Ryder Cup. I mean, they're big billboards. There's one in Franklin. You come through there, you'll see it. It may be a little further north, but it's pretty cool looking at those signs.
Everybody I talk to, especially here lately, "I'm going to be there." You hear that all the time. "We can't wait." Everybody is really excited and can't wait for it to begin.

Q. Getting back to the putter story, what kind of putter did he give you?
KENNY PERRY: It's a Ping Craz-E.

Q. You referenced a couple things today, one about previously maybe running from attention, and also for 22 years nobody wanted to talk to you, now they're rubbing on you, et cetera, et cetera. What was it like? I wonder if you could just kind of go through the process of all the heat and comment and criticism, et cetera, on sticking to your plan and not going to the British. I mean, you talk about attention, that must have been --
KENNY PERRY: To me that was more of a compliment than a criticism. I said before, why in 22 years -- nobody has ever cared where I played golf. That's the truth. I'm not trying to knock myself, but that's the truth (laughter).
Now all of a sudden I've got everybody -- it's funny how the media goes, one little story and next thing you know, everybody runs on this story, so now I'm the bad guy over there. It was kind of comical. I was chuckling over it. I was like, wow, this is pretty cool.
You know, I didn't think too much of it, and it still doesn't bother me. I just hope they don't treat me bad next year when I go (laughter).

Q. It seemed like going through some of your transcripts at different tournaments as you were being asked this question that there was a point at which it almost fired you up a little bit?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, well, I love stuff like that. I love when people tell me I can't do something, because I'm going to prove you wrong. That's just my mentality and that's just the way I feel. People told me I'd never make the TOUR, I proved those people wrong. They said I'd never win out there, never amount to much. You know, it just seems like negative comments and criticisms just fires me up, that's all, just makes me play harder.
I'm kind of a low-key easy-going guy, and I kind of need stuff like that. When I get something burning in my belly a little bit, it just kind of inspires me to work a little bit harder, and at my age I need that because I'm kinda getting lazy.

Q. You obviously saw Norman was in contention over there at age 53 --

Q. You're about to turn 48, which I don't know that you'd be the oldest major winner, but the oldest was 46. Is it just age is a number at this point?
KENNY PERRY: I think so. I've said that 40 is now the new 30. You look at everybody staying in better shape, equipment has really helped me. That's been a big -- with the golf ball and the driver going so far now. I swing a lot less -- I have a lot less miles-per-hour speed now than -- I think I led the TOUR in driving distance in '91. I probably had 120-plus club speed, now I've only got 115, but yet my distance is further. I hit it further than I did back then. That's kept me in the game for sure.

Q. I know what your family means to you, and you've got a lot going on at home with Justin graduating and then a wedding and all that kind of stuff. Has that helped a little bit because you've got maybe some more -- when you're home you're not thinking about golf?
KENNY PERRY: Well, it didn't help last week because I had Sports Illustrated there for three days. I've been doing a lot of interviews, call-ins, talk shows. It's going to be tough. I mean, I'm not going to get a lot of free time between now and the Ryder Cup, which might be good. I've got to stay focused on my golf and I've got to somehow stay mentally and physically ready to play when it gets here.
When I play my best golf I play a lot of tournaments in a row. When I won Memorial it was my seventh tournament in a row, and I had only been home for two nights, that was it, in seven weeks.
So it just seems to me it's hard for me to come out for one or two and then take two off. I just can't get in a rhythm that way. It just makes sense for me to play a lot of weeks, and that's what I'm going to do between now and then.

Q. You said the wedding is --
KENNY PERRY: November 15th.

Q. Do you have any say at all?
KENNY PERRY: No, just handed her the checkbook and said, "Don't tell me how much it costs."

Q. I wonder if you would -- as you go back to Valhalla, how much do you think about '96? When people reference it now, they always talk about that's the major where Kenny was up in the broadcast booth. Is that a fair assessment?
KENNY PERRY: Well, yeah, that's what happened. It didn't affect the way I played. They think that's the reason I lost the championship. The first drive I hit, I killed it, hit it dead down the middle of the fairway, and it went 20 yards too far from strictly sheer adrenaline, being pumped up. The hole grows straight but it has a bunker that cuts straight out into the middle of the fairway. It went into that, hit about three feet of that blue grass rough, fairway, glue grass rough and then the bunker. Well, it went straight into the blue grass rough. Then I hoseled it out of the rough and never even finished the hole. I hit it at the same spot I hit it all week, so I can't believe that's what cost me the tournament. It was just youth that cost me the tournament, young, inexperienced, not being there, not ready to accept the challenge of winning. It was a great opportunity for me, but at the time I didn't realize that.
If I could be in that situation now, I think it would be totally different.

Q. Didn't you hit it a mile left on 18 in regulation?
KENNY PERRY: In regulation I did, yeah. I hooked it way off into the junk down there to the left and hit an 8-iron out and then I wedged it -- I hit it up there to about -- I had a six-footer. I don't know if that was for par or for birdie on the last hole. I had a six-footer straight up the hill. It was about two balls out to the left, and if I made it I knew I was going to win the tournament, and I hit it too hard and hit it through the break.

Q. Wrong putter?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, wrong putter (laughter).

Q. You talk about all the people that have been at your house and all the interviews that you've done and all the calls. Could you sum up how you're liking it?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I've been trying to run from it a little bit. I'm not used it, to be honest. I'm not used to everybody tugging at me a little bit. It's been a new learning curve for me in trying to find a way to manage my time a little bit. All three of my kids are home for the summer. I don't want to take away from their time at the house and be with them. I like to fool with old cars. That's my time to get away from golf and get refreshed and get focused and ready to play golf.
It's been tough. I've had to constantly answer the questions and talk about either the British Open or the Ryder Cup. It's been an everyday -- it'll wear on me mentally, all the questions and all the people coming wanting something from you. But you'd better enjoy it because this is probably the only time for me. We'll see. I mean, I might can play well the next two years, but I've thrown all my eggs in the basket for this year. This is it. I'm going for it all.

Q. Does it give you a little bit more of an appreciation what Tiger goes through?
KENNY PERRY: Very much. Yeah, I can't believe how he handles all this. It's incredible.

Q. Speaking of Tiger, have you considered -- when you talk about incentives, not only to the Ryder Cup but beyond, the possibility of winning the money title with him out the rest of the year? You're leading the scoring average right now for Vardon Trophy. What would that mean?
KENNY PERRY: Now, Vardon Trophy would be huge. I would love to win that. I mean, that would be a great honor to win the Vardon trophy, low stroke average. I think we're all still going to have that little asterisk by our name because Tiger is not out here. If he were playing his name would be right there, too. I've always said it, and I said, it's just a great opportunity for an old guy to win a little bit of money (laughter).

Q. Just a little bit.
KENNY PERRY: It would be great to win the FedEx, don't get me wrong. That was not a goal of mine, I was not focused toward it. If I can somehow get through this Ryder Cup thing, this is what I'm after. This is what I want to be known for, what I want to be remembered for.

Q. When you called it more of a dream than a goal, could you have imagined clinching a spot on the team without having played three majors or two World Golf Championships?
KENNY PERRY: No, not even close. That's why I committed to Milwaukee back in February. I committed to my schedule, and that's where I got kind of stuck a little bit there, because I set my sights on all the tournaments I've had success at and thought I could do well at. It's pretty funny that I could do that without playing in all those double-point tournaments and shorter fields, and it's been pretty amazing, to tell you the truth.

Q. You mentioned all the eggs in one basket kind of thing. For that, for the Ryder Cup week to go well for you, do you have to play well and the team wins?
KENNY PERRY: Just the team win. I don't have to play well. If the team wins and I lose all my matches, I'm going to be happy. It's going to be a tough week for me with all my friends and family, trying to take care of all their needs and actually focusing on the team. It's going to be a tough week. But you know what, I've prepared myself mentally in my game. I've really worked on my game to get it ready for Valhalla. But they've changed the golf course. I haven't been there since they changed 11 of the holes, the tee boxes, the green complexes. It's going to be totally different than when I was there before. I'm going to go in there the week before and play and practice to get ready if they'll let me, so when the Ryder Cup begins or when we start playing practice rounds, I won't have to focus too much on the golf course. I'll have my work done, and I can focus on the fans. That's going to be my goal.

Q. How do you think the dynamics will be differently at this Ryder Cup for you with Zinger as a captain as opposed to Sutton?
KENNY PERRY: Well, Hal was intimidating (laughter). He wanted to kill them. I mean, it was incredible. He was like, "We're going to stick our foot down their throats and we're going to kill them." That's exactly what he said (laughter). I was like, "Whoa."
Zinger is going to be more slight of words, the way he says stuff, mental game. I like Zinger. It's going to be a neat deal because with him, the way he likes -- he told me not to tell anybody, but I'll tell you this, and if you write it y'all are fired. "I'm going to tell all you guys up straight, but I'm going to lie to the press."
You won't know how to take him. He'll keep us loose, it's going to be fun. You know, he's a great competitor. See, Paul and I came up together through the mini-tours. I remember he had a motorhome, him and Toni and Sandy and I, we would eat together and they had a car and we'd get a motel. I can't handle the motorhomes. I've known Paul for a long time. He's a great friend and a great champion, and a guy I want to play hard for. I enjoy playing hard for Jack and for Arnie. It was just hard for me with Hal. I don't know Hal as well. He's a great guy. It was just too much for me at the time. The whole Ryder Cup experience just kind of overwhelmed me in '04. There was just a lot there going on. I'm going to be well prepared when I get in there this year.

Q. Zinger is a prankster, isn't he?
KENNY PERRY: Very much a prankster.

Q. What's the worst you've seen from him?
KENNY PERRY: The worst? I don't know. He's done some shady things (laughter). We're not going to go there (laughter).

Q. You were saying you need something to get yourself fired up. Can you dredge up some of those British Open headlines or something in your head for this week?
KENNY PERRY: No, it's not personal. It's not going to be personal with me on that deal. You know what, if I play well and I play like -- if I keep making birdies like I'm making birdies and I handle the golf course, they're going to have their hands full. Just winning, I just want to win, that's it. That's the bottom line.

Q. Pat Perez played through that morning monsoon over there in the first round at Birkdale and brought your name up. I don't know if you were aware of that, but he said after it all shook out maybe you were the smart one. I wonder if you watched any of that and saw what those guys were going through, the morning wave, the first round over there at Birkdale when it was truly raining sideways, whether you laughed at all.
KENNY PERRY: No, I didn't laugh, but I kind of -- I chuckled a little bit. I said, maybe the British press won't talk about me so bad anymore, I don't know.
You know what, you can't win that Claret Jug where I was at, though. I mean, to me that would be neat. That would be great to be able to -- I had a chance at Royal St. Georges. I was one back going into Sunday. Ben Curtis won. I had a great opportunity to win that tournament and ended up finishing eighth. The fans are great over there, and that golf is fun. It truly is fun golf. But it's a shame it's dictated a lot on weather. You can really get on the wrong wave there and your tournament is done because a squall came in there and you're out and all of a sudden it calms down and the afternoon guys play real well or vice versa. But it's a great championship.
CHRIS REIMER: Appreciate you coming down. Play well this week.

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