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August 5, 2008

Kenny Perry


KELLY ELBIN: Kenny Perry, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. Kenny comes in having won three times on the PGA TOUR in the second half of the season, including the Buick Open not too far up the road. This will be Kenny's 18th PGA Championship appearance. He is third on the U.S. Ryder Cup Team standings.
Kenny, it has been quite a second half of the year, a lot of great accomplishments. Thoughts coming in?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, I'm hoping I didn't peak too early. That's kind of the way I've been looking at this. Set my goals to make that Ryder Cup team and blew right through that this summer, and now I'm trying to get refocused here and get reenergized for September.
This will be a great place to do it. I love the PGA Championship. It is my favorite major. I'm a golf course owner, and I just feel like this tournament's the heart and soul of the PGA. And I'm just proud to be a part of it.
KELLY ELBIN: Talk a little bit about the golf course and the practice rounds you played so far.
KENNY PERRY: This golf course is great. The setup's great. The best player's going to win this week. Nobody is going to be lucky enough to escape hitting poor shots and survive this golf course.
I never hit woods into par-3s like I'm doing out here. It's very long, very demanding, very fair. You've got to hit it straight, bottom line.
They haven't even sped the greens up. I think the greens are very slow. If they do, it would be a little over the top with all the slopes and swales on these greens. So I think over par's going to win. I really do. I think it's going to be -- I think this golf course is a big tough test and your best guy's going to win.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. Talk about why this is your favorite? Sometimes it's maybe dismissed compared to the other three, and obviously --
KENNY PERRY: Well, just to me, it has more of a PGA-feel to me, the tournament. The courses they select, the courses we play, I just feel more comfortable. It's usually set up more like a PGA TOUR event. The Open's always tougher rough, but this week I think the rough is tough as I've ever seen it.
Narrower fairways usually see at U.S. Open. The Masters is always a putting contest with those severe slopes and greens, and I'm not a great putter, so I always struggled at the Masters. Then the British you always have the element of weather that you have to deal with.
So it was always very comfortable for me to play in the PGA. I think I've only missed one or two cuts. I played 18 years. I got 18 PGAs in. I think I made 16 cuts. And just always have enjoyed this event.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Kenny has made 16 of 17 cuts in the PGA Championship.
KENNY PERRY: Oh, 16 of 17.

Q. If it is over par this week, that will be three-out-of-four majors where the winner was over, and is that good or does it matter?
KENNY PERRY: When was the last time you ever saw anybody come from behind and win? The winner always comes from the last two groups. The courses are set up so tough now that you can't come out early in the round and post a low number to catch somebody. It just doesn't happen.
I would definitely like to see a little more birdies. I would like to see the opportunity to at least have a chance on Sunday to catch up. I don't like over par. I wish they would let us have a little more freedom out there to where we can have a chance to make birdies. But they want to protect par; par, you know, that's what they're doing. It's tough mentally. It's a grind out there. 72 holes, you've got to figure out a way to get it done, and to shoot even or over par is kind of tough. It's just, it just makes for a long week.

Q. Much has been made about your streak, and you said last week that you're a streaky player, and when you get on one, you stay hot. Talk about though you've reached that goal of making the Ryder Cup team, what a major would mean at this point in your career.
KENNY PERRY: Well, it would be the ultimate, obviously. I always said all along I'm proud of all the guys who win majors, because I know how stern a test it is and how tough it is.
I admire all those guys who have been able to do it. To me, it would just be the icing on the cake. I said it before; it would be the ultimate goal for me to win a major. I've been able to win 12 times out here, but I've never been able to get it done in a major. I never even really played well until I lost in the playoff to Mark Brooks at the PGA at Valhalla, back home in Kentucky. So I haven't had much success other than that week in all the majors I played in.
So drive the ball good enough, putting's always held me back, and for the past three months, I putted better than I ever putted in my life, period.
For whatever reason, I don't know why, I just needed to continue to show up; and if I putt somewhere near like I putted this summer, I've got a great shot this week.

Q. Assessing your chances this week, how does this golf course fit your eye? How do you like it, shapes of the holes, that kind of thing. And how do you feel about it playing this week?
KENNY PERRY: Well, definitely length is an advantage, and it sets up good. My little draw fits out there.
It doesn't really intimidate me in any way to say my shot's not going to fit in that fairway. The fairways are not firm enough to where the ball's rolling out. They're hitting soft and hitting dead, and if you got one; me, if I got it going up that left side, it's kind of hanging in there for me and not hanging up in the rough, but it's staying in the fairway for me.
I think they have done a great job with the setup. Greens are soft; they're very receptive. I've got a huge advantage with the height I hit my irons and all, and the length I got off the tee; if I can just figure out a way to keep it in the fairway each hole, I'm going to have a great shot at this championship.
I love the golf course. Greens are a little crazy. There's a lot of swales out there you have got to figure out and not short-side yourself. You've got to think a lot. It's a golf course that there's a lot of course management involved of where you need to place that ball. Sometimes necessarily going for the stick is not the thing to do here.
I've just got to be patient. I was able to play The Open here when Steve Jones won, so I've got competitive rounds in; I played the Ryder Cup here in 2004. So at least I have had some time out here on these greens to kind of get a feel for them. So I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge.

Q. How much gratitude or warm feeling did you get from the people in Milwaukee because you played there that week, and also considering all the questions that you were asked about not playing in the British, did you kind of laugh when you watched the British that morning and saw the guys suffering in the hurricane that they were playing in?
KENNY PERRY: It was pretty funny. When I turned it on Pat Perez was in an interview. He just shot 82. He said it was blowing sideways and sleet was hitting him. He said that on camera, he said, "Kenny Perry's the smartest man in the world." I kind of chuckled then. But I still couldn't win the Claret Jug where I was at.
I set my goal early in the year to make that Ryder Cup team. I wasn't going to bail out. I committed in January to Milwaukee. I was 100-something in the world then. Who had ever thought I would have won three tournaments at my age; to have all those Top-10s?
You know what, it's just been a dream season for me. I had a goal to make that Ryder Cup Team, and it all came true. It all fell into place. Then all of a sudden, I solidified my spot to make the British, but I wasn't going to bail out of Milwaukee. I had eight top-10s there and a win, so now I went there; I finished sixth, so now I got nine Top 10s and a win there. So it's a golf course I dearly love; it's been huge in my career, keeping me going. It means a lot to me, that little golf course, and the fans were terrific. They welcomed me with open arms, and they showed me a lot of support that week.

Q. Question about your putting. I know you the guy gave you that new putter, and in Florida is it more, the instrument, or is it some change you made in technique? You've been a streaky putter in the past; did you go back to stuff that worked? What is it about the putting?
KENNY PERRY: One big difference about this putter, it's got a dead face, a dead insert in it. Meaning I kind of have a little pop-stroke where my right hand wants to get away from me, and I putted with that old Rossi I forever, most of my career.
And it just seems like now when I get a little nervous and the putter wants to get away from me, I kind of pop at it; with this dead insert, it doesn't run away by the hole any more.
Actually, my lag putting's been terrific. Actually, that's what's been the biggest change for me to have an insert that was so dead that I really had to swing the putter fast and hard to get it to move, and that gave me a lot of confidence.

Q. As you might have heard, the USGA made a ruling today on the grooves to limit the grooves, I think starting 2010, which has obviously been expected for awhile.
KENNY PERRY: So we're going back to V-Grooves or whatever?

Q. I don't know the exact details.
KENNY PERRY: I didn't hear that. All right.

Q. I'm just curious, ur now that you have heard it, just your perspective on how much of an impact that will have?
KENNY PERRY: I like it.

Q. Both on the TOUR, and also when it trickles down on the average, recreational golfer?
KENNY PERRY: Well, for me, all that's going to do is help me. It's going to help all the guys who drive it better.
Obviously the premium will be to hit the fairway where you can put spin on the ball. And I hit lots of fairways. So to me, I'm looking forward to it. We'll see how those guys can control those jumpers out of the rough.
It will be interesting to go back. I can remember back in my college and high school, when I used to hit those 210-yard 8-irons and stuff coming out of the rough. It will be kind of funny watching that. The people behind the greens better wear hard hats; that's all I got to say.
So, I like it. It will make the guys play better. It will make them play a little more course management. They will have to think a little bit before they stand up there and try to bomb it 350 off the tee. We'll just see. I don't know. To me it's the way it looks like to me. But it may not change much, but I think it will.

Q. You had said during the Buick Open or in June that although not having Tiger and the Ryder Cup Team would be a detriment; that it might make the U.S. a tougher team. Could you elaborate on that?
KENNY PERRY: Well, it's going to make everybody have to step up and play basically. We have always leaned on Tiger to be our leader, to be our -- to make sure that to get him out there, I always feel comfortable if I knew Tiger was out there. I would say, well, that's a point for us; that's just the way I looked at it.
Now that he's not there. We can't lean on him. We're all going to have to be accountable for what we do. We're all going to have to step up a bit, and we're all going to have to play. I like hanging out with that guy, I'm going to miss him. I miss him in the locker room.
So it's going to be tough on us, but I think we're going to be tough mentally. We're not going to be able to rely on him. We're all going to have to step up, and that's just the way I feel it's going to have to be.

Q. You said 47 is the new 30 a couple times. And you said a minute ago, you never dreamed you would win three times at this age. What's gone into it? Physical fitness or some mental --
KENNY PERRY: I never worked out a day in my life. That's the truth.

Q. Just being placid mentally? How do you look at what you've been able to do?
KENNY PERRY: I think it's just genetic's. God's given me a big body; I'm a big guy. Physically, I never had any trouble, back problems, nothing. My swing I guess doesn't put a lot of stress on my back. I've been able to hit the golf ball a long ways, period. I just practice a lot.
Why it happened this year? It's just been magical. I just set a goal, and it just taught me I need to set more goals in my life. I really haven't really thought about -- my only goal was to make the Ryder Cup Team that's all I focused in on this year.
Next year maybe I need to focus in on winning a major and seeing if I can do that. Put everything have I there to do it. I never really tried to do that.
I never, you know, I never said I was going to go out and win this tournament or this event. I've always just tried to show up and play and do my best and whatever it fell I was happy with that. I was pretty content with finishing Top-10 or whatever.
So I wasn't going to be content with anything this year but making that team. I was determined more than ever.

Q. You said at Milwaukee you got a little burned out. Are you refreshed now, ready to go this week?
KENNY PERRY: Firestone was tough last week. That's another big, long, grueling test. There's nothing easy out here. Then I come straight from there to here.
No, I'm still pretty tired. I've got to figure out -- I'm not going to do anything tomorrow. I'm just going to get away, disappear; and my wife's flying in tonight, so we may go into Detroit and hang out, and hopefully 2 o'clock tomorrow when I come tee it up, I'll be ready to play.

Q. Talk about this being a dream season with so much of the focus being on not playing the major; does that amuse you or annoy you?
KENNY PERRY: It amuses me. Actually, I thought it was a compliment. I've told it many times in 22 years; nobody cared where I played golf. Now all of a sudden, everybody is worried about, oh, I'm not going to the British; oh, man. And they blasted me for it, which I was laughing.
To tell you the truth it was, you know what, I just couldn't believe it. If I haven't have been playing very well, this scenario wouldn't have never happened. So to me it was a compliment, and I enjoyed it.
KELLY ELBIN: Can you talk for a second about the golf course at Valhalla, whether you played it since Jack made the changes?
KENNY PERRY: I have not been there since Jack has made all the changes. I guess the last time I was there it was the 2000 PGA. And I heard he's done a lot of -- made a lot of holes longer, kind of like here. He's redone the green complexes on six or seven or eight of the holes.
So I know all I'm going to do is I'm going in the week before, that week off, that we have on TOUR, I'm going to play a couple days that week, and get my work done. And then when I show up there for the Ryder Cup the next week, I'm going to enjoy the fans. I'm going to enjoy the people, I'm going to enjoy my family. So it's going to be a special week for me.
KELLY ELBIN: Kenny Perry, thank you very much.
KENNY PERRY: You got it. Thank y'all.

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