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April 10, 2009

Kenny Perry


RONALD TOWNSEND: Good afternoon. We would like to welcome Kenny Perry. This is his first appearance in this room, he says. Kenny yesterday shot a 4-under par 68, shot a 5-under par 67 today. He's 9-under par, tied for the lead. This is his ninth Masters appearance. Kenny has already won this year. He won the FBR and he has three victories in 2008. We invite your questions.

Q. I guess we can assume that you are focusing on the Majors and not The Presidents Cup this year? (Laughter).
KENNY PERRY: Good question. (Laughter) Definitely, yeah. I told y'all earlier this year, I was going to play all four Majors this year. The Presidents Cup is not in Kentucky. We are after them this year.

Q. After what you went through at The Ryder Cup last year, and making it the great experience that you had there, was it easier this year to come out?
KENNY PERRY: Definitely. You know what, everything is a bonus now, it really is. I'm just going through each and every day enjoying life a little bit. I think I can win. You know, I'm not going out there very casually. I'm still very -- I'm burning inside, wanting to kick everybody's butt. I've got a will inside of me; my dad taught me, he beat on me so bad as a kid and any kind of game, sport, whatever, he beat me so bad, cried all the time because he just beat on me. And then he would laugh in my face as he was doing it. (Laughter).
You know, he was a smart man. He taught me a lot. At Ryder Cup when he came up and gave me that hug, you know, I told him, that was the greatest gift I could ever have given him. That was pretty special for us as a father and a son.
Everything is just going great. I understand what I'm trying to do, what I'm trying accomplish it. Can I? I think I can. I really believe I can win this Tournament. Will I? I don't know.
But I'm driving it beautifully. I've switched one club in my bag from my four wins and it's my driver. I put this new driver in play and I told my caddie, I said, "I think I can win a U.S. Open with this driver, because I'm driving it so straight." I've probably lost five to seven yards in distance, but it's given me a lot of confidence in straightness. It don't really curve as much right-to-left. It's a very straight driver. Whatever they have done to it, I don't know. I probably missed three fairways this whole week, at the most, and I hit 15 greens yesterday; I probably hit 16 today. My iron game is really good.
My putting, my touch is really good with my putter. I've got great speed. I just need to figure out a way to read the greens a little bit better. I hit it close on 13, 14. I hit it really close and I missed them. I had my opportunities, you know, but I made some good putts. I made a great putt on 12. I was pretty nervous. I hit two of the best 3-irons of my life on 10 and 11. I had 228 into 10. I hit it beautiful 3-iron right over that bunker and drew it right in there 15 feet from the hole and 11 hit 228 again, I had the same number both holes and I was able to hit it towards the middle of that bunker almost pin-high right and couldn't convert there either.
The 12th hole was a pivotal hole for me. I hit a beautiful 8-iron. It was 152,153, I forget the yardage exactly. I was nervous. That wind was blowing really hard on 11 and it's hard to get a feel, is it coming in that hard, is the trees behind it going to block that shot, and just was committed to it. Tried to shoot it right over that bunker and got it on and made about a 25-footer back down the hill to keep the train rolling.
So it's been an awesome, very relaxed, very comfortable two days. I told Freddie I only missed two shots today. How many times can you say you missed two shots? I missed a sand wedge on the eighth hole and an iron on 16. I pull-drew it off the slope a hundred feet away or whatever.
I was really in command of my game the last two days.

Q. You have a spotty history at this Tournament, can you put your finger on what you figured out at 48 that you didn't figure out at 40 or 30?
KENNY PERRY: My putter is a lot better. I'm actually very comfortable on the greens. I've put my time in working on the greens early in the week. You know, I just got great speed. It's always been -- from tee-to-green, I'm about the same. I all felt like I was a pretty good driver of the golf ball, pretty good iron player. But I had put a 64-degree sand wedge in the bag, put it in about a month ago starting at the Match Play, and I've really hit some neat little shots around the green just to kind of kill the ball and help me get it up-and-down.
So the combination of the driver and the sand wedge and my putter coming to me, next thing you know, my scores have gotten a lot better.

Q. How satisfying is it to get around this golf course without a bogey today?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, that was probably one of the greatest rounds I've ever played, to be honest. I just didn't have any nerves. I was so comfortable out there today. I don't know why. I don't know how to explain it. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow or Sunday.
But it was just easy. I mean, I knew I was going to hit the fairway. I had a confidence in my head. I knew I was going to drive it right down the middle of the fairway and I knew I was going to be able to attack the pins. We had to really pay attention to what we were doing out there. The winds were swirling. I have a great caddie, Freddie, he knows my yardage and my irons. We've been together seven, eight years now. We have seven wins together.
So very comfortable when he says something, when he pipes up, he feels pretty good about something. So we are working good as a team, and you know what, the pins were all very accessible. I think they have done a great job setting the pins for the first two days.
And you know what, you can take advantage of it, if you can get them from the fairway, and that's where I've been able to do it.

Q. So much this week was focused on the young bucks, but yet here you are at your age, advanced age. Can you talk about players like yourself and Vijay, players who have played so very well as they near age 50?
KENNY PERRY: I think technology has helped us. I think the golf ball goes a long way now, and the driver. You look at Fred Couples, there's another one. There's still quite a few guys in their mid 40s still playing very good out here.
But for me, it has always been -- physically, I've always been real good. I don't think I've lost anything from my mid 20s to now. I feel like I'm just as strong and I feel like I hit it just as far. I think we have got more experience on the young guys.
In the long run, I'd take a guy with more experience and know-how. You need to really know how to manage your way around this golf course and pay attention, and course management is key out here.
You know, I don't really work out. I can't really say I'm working out or anything like that. And I don't really watch what I eat, but yet -- (laughter), it's working. So I haven't changed anything. (Laughter).

Q. In what ways are you different than the player who had a chance to win the PGA at Valhalla? And are you the kind of player that felt you needed a Major to complete your career as a success on TOUR?
KENNY PERRY: Not really. I think the public looks at you and says you need to win a Major. But for me, to where I came from, the roots I had and my upbringing, to come from a nine-hole golf course in the middle of nowhere; I didn't have swing coaches. I didn't have this entourage. I didn't have the money. I didn't have anything. I was borrowing money, begging, doing whatever I could, scratching and clawing to get out here.
It means a lot more to me, I think, because of where I've come from and where I've been able to go and how much success I've been able to have. To me, that's very satisfying and very gratifying.
Now, you know, everybody looks at winning Majors as very important, and I would agree. You know, people look at your stats. They are going to say, you need to win Majors if you are going to be the upper echelon of the PGA TOUR players out there, of the winners.
But I've had a great career. And I'd be very satisfied if it ended today, where I'm at, in my life, in my career. The Ryder Cup, I can't express to y'all how much that meant to me. To me, that was the ultimate of anything I have ever, ever been a part of or accomplished, be it any of my 13 wins. None of those meant anything compared to what I experienced that week with my family, my dad.
But Dad has always said, "You need to win that green jacket." He always calls me and tells me. (Laughter).

Q. It had been a couple of years since you had been here. Obviously last year when you reeled off those ones in the middle of the year, you knew you were going to be coming back, but before that, were you wondering whether maybe you had played your last time?
KENNY PERRY: I was qualified in 2006 and I had knee surgery the week of Bay Hill. I blew my knee out at Kapalua and so I had knee surgery that knocked me out in 2006. Played very poorly, tried to come back early, had all of these swing problems. Vijay is experiencing that, he's doing the same -- he came up and talked to me a long thing about that and he's doing the same thing I did; until your mind finally lets go and says: Okay, I'm healed. I'm okay; I'm not protecting the leg.
2007 was a bad year and like you said, 2008, Masters had come and gone before I got hot and was able to qualify for it.
So I've played a lot of rounds out here. I actually know the golf course fairly well, and I'm very comfortable on it. So it's neat to finally get back here.

Q. Your daughter is older than Rory McIlroy.
KENNY PERRY: My youngest daughter is two years older. (Laughter) I told him that. I played a practice round with him.

Q. Is that weird? And when the kids leave the house for college, did that help your game?
KENNY PERRY: Very much so. I told her -- Sandy and I have been married 27 years and I told her, I've only known her for 13 and a half. While she was raising the kids, I was out trying to make a living playing the PGA TOUR.
So my youngest daughter is now a junior at SMU, my oldest daughter got married and I walked her down the aisle in November; that was tough. My son graduated and my little girl, she's a junior at SMU. Sandy says she's not staying home and she's travelling with me. We have had a ball and we are travelling each and every week. She's been a great supporter of me in my career.

Q. A lot of guys well before they get to be 48 lose their putting touch, and you haven't. Is it just dumb luck or something you've done through the years to keep it?
KENNY PERRY: I think it's luck, to tell you the truth. This putter I'm using was given to me by one of my members at Vero Beach at Bent Pine. I had three belly putters and four laying on the green and he gave it to me and the grip is all worn out and he handed me this putter and he said, you need to use this putter, it's really going to help your game. So I grabbed the putter and threw it in the back of my truck.

Q. When was this?
KENNY PERRY: It's been -- I debuted it at the Shark Shootout two years ago. And when I found out with this putter was the face is real dead. It takes -- at my age, I do have a little firing mechanism that wants to shoot the ball a little bit. Well, the face is so dead on this putter, the ball it, won't take off very fast when you hit it. It comes off just kind of dead.
Ever since he gave me that putter, I have putted beautifully. I mean, I don't know if it's the loft, how it sets up. But to me, it the face and how the ball comes off of it. It just comes off really slow, and if I do ever get excited or something, I don't really knock it way by the hole anymore like I used to.
It's just given me a lot of confidence.

Q. If you are able to fulfill your dad's orders and win that green jacket this week, where would that stack up with The Ryder Cup for you?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I can't really answer that till I put that thing on Sunday night, you know, how will I feel, the emotions.
But the experience I had with my dad and my wife and kids at The Ryder Cup, will be one I'll never forget. I still get goosebumps talking about it.
But if I have the opportunity to get Trevor to put that jacket on me, I'll answer that question Sunday night.

Q. What you did at The Ryder Cup, there was a lot of pressure on you to perform there, how do you think you could use that into the weekend here?
KENNY PERRY: Well, very much. It ought to be very similar. I laid all my cards on the line that week. I put it all out on the line, being in front of my home -- I mean, I could have been a dog that week and went 0 and five or 0 and 4 or whatever and not won a point. I put all of the pressure on my I could put on myself. It was basically a mulligan. People remember my debacle at the PGA, how will I screwed that up and all of Kentucky remembered me for that. I was throwing it out there and I was going for broke. I was either going to hit a home run or I was going to get thrown out.
And it went my way. Things went my way. I played great. It was probably one of the greatest three days of my life ball-striking-wise. Very similar to the way I'm hitting right here. And I putted beautifully that week. Against Henrik on Sunday, I was 6-under through the first eight holes and was making every putt from all over the golf course out there.
I just need to read the putts a little bit better this week, and I'm going to be making putts here.

Q. Earlier in the week, Jim Furyk was in talking about golfers when they get older and he said that some of them almost have a second life because when their kids get older and they get out of the house, they are able to devote more time to golf than when they were in their 30s and wanted to hang around the house a little more. I wonder if that happened in your case a little bit, too?
KENNY PERRY: Oh, definitely, very similar. Once the kids left, Sandy and I started travelling and I started hitting more golf balls. When they were little, they were telling me not to leave, not to go -- don't leave me, stay home with me. That was tough, as a dad, to leave your kids, when they don't want you to leave.
Now they are all here with me this week. I have got my son-in-law here this week. We rented a big house. We're having a great time.

Q. You say you can win; if you do win, has the thought occurred to you that you would be the oldest Masters Champion to beat Jack's record?
KENNY PERRY: Not really. I'm really not looking -- I'm not trying to look to Sunday. I've got to get by tomorrow, and then when Sunday gets here, I've got to get by Sunday.

Q. Last year, a lot was made out of you, when you put all of your effort into making The Ryder Cup Team and you only played the one round at the PGA. When these Majors were being played, did you miss it at all?
KENNY PERRY: Definitely. Definitely. As a competitor, I'm one of the biggest competitors out here. I hate to miss any of those big tournaments. I love the atmosphere. I love the roars that you get, especially here at Augusta. The roars are unbelievable.
Last year was mine; my plan, I drew it out early in the year and I was not going to deviate from it. And I took a lot of heat from it for skipping those two Majors. I was not in the U.S. Open. After I won Memorial, I still had to go qualify the next Monday, the next day, I had to do a 36-holer. I said no way I'm doing that.
The only tournament I was actually in was the British and I just didn't want to go over and change my golf ball to work in the wind, change the flight of my golf ball. I just wanted to stay positive, go to a tournament I knew I had had a lot of success at. I went to Milwaukee and took a lot of heat for that. But I just wanted to stay on course and get ready for The Ryder Cup. That's what I was after.

Q. You talked about you didn't have videos and simulators and swing coaches when you were coming up and everything, and you are one of the few guys that still have a very distinctive swing, and a lot of these kids all kind of look the same. How personal is that swing to you, and what's your response, if somebody in the past had ever tried to say, you know, maybe you ought to do this a little more in the classic way? Or are you stubborn like Jim Furyk about your swing?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, I'm very stubborn. I knew -- the gentleman, Norman Head was his name. He started -- he picked me up my freshman year in college. I had a neck injury that caused my golf swing. It got to the point where I really could not rotate my shoulders or anything. So I started picking the club up, because my neck was hurting, and that's how my swing came about.
I used to have a nice, round normal-looking golf swing, but as soon as I got hurt in college, I was still trying to play; my golf swing changed, and that's how it evolved into the way it is today.
And actually, it's been a blessing, because I've been able to stay on top of it more. I'm a lot steeper on of top of the golf ball and compress it a little bit with the irons and trap them, they are very direct iron shots. And in the long run, it's been wonderful. My swing, I have always been one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the TOUR. I've always top-tenned it every year on the TOUR in driving distance combined. I've never been afraid to hit the driver.
To me, I think their swing is wrong and mine's right. (Laughter).

Q. You mentioned to us in Tampa about the Kentucky Derby?
KENNY PERRY: We are the Grand Marshals of the Kentucky Derby. It's like April 28 or 29, somewhere around in there. Thursday is the parade. We will be in the parade, and then the Oaks is on Friday and the derby is on Saturday. It's just going to be a fun week with Dad and I. A lot of waving and hand-shaking. Hopefully I can wear the green jacket while I'm doing all that. (Laughter).

Q. And they picked you because of The Ryder Cup success?
KENNY PERRY: I guess because of The Ryder Cup, yes.

Q. Is there some difference between the player you were at the Colonial in 2003 and now?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I hope that guy shows up, because in 2003, I was shooting 61, unstoppable that year.
Actually that was probably the finest -- 2003 was my best year. 2008 was similar but 2003 was more of a dominating performance to where my swing was actually better back then than it is now. It repeated better.
But you know, like I said before, it's just I don't really feel a lot of pressure. I'm just having fun. I'm just enjoying the walk, and I don't want y'all to take that as I'm going to be laxed and lazy and easy-going tomorrow. I'm going to have my nose to the grindstone but I'm enjoying it while I'm playing, too.

Q. Any stories stand out from your dad when you were a kid?
KENNY PERRY: Well, the one story was, I was probably seven years old and we used to have a little bag, you know, your rain cover, a little plastic -- we had about 50 balls and he would sit on the down and smoke this big cigar, smoke would be flying and he would be sitting on a towel laying on the ground and he would be teeing them up right after another and I would hit them as fast as could I hit them and we did that hour after hour after hour. I still smell the cigar, the grass. Any time I catch a whiff of any of that, my dad instantly comes to me.

Q. Is that the time you spent with him as much as anything else?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, Dad sold insurance and the time we spent together was on the weekends at the golf course.

Q. Any other examples of how your dad beat on you?
KENNY PERRY: Well, it was card games. We played a lot of card games, board games, golf. He would just pound on me. He says, "I'm going to beat you till I die." He was relentless. He was ruthless. He was a smart man. He knew it was going to make me tough. That's all he was trying to do was make me tougher.

Q. Your dad's name?

Q. Was it an aberration last year at THE PLAYERS Championship for you, obviously being the leader, was it just one of those round outs of the blue?
KENNY PERRY: At Jacksonville? Sunday's round, I shot 81 on Sunday. It was blowing 35 out there, and it was difficult. I mean, just very difficult, and I didn't drive it very good. My swing got off on Sunday and next thing you know, I was struggling chipping and putting and everything else. It was just a day -- it was a tough day out there.

Q. You said your dad was in insurance. Where is he this weekend?
KENNY PERRY: He's at home. He'll be at the golf course sitting behind a counter on the computer watching it on the computer with the flat screen watching it right there beside him.

Q. At your course?
KENNY PERRY: At my course, at Country Creek, yeah.

Q. If things were shaping up Sunday that you might win, do you think he would make arrangements to get here?
KENNY PERRY: Probably not. My mom's not doing very good. Mom has multiple myeloma cancer and has really been fighting it hard. We just got her out of the hospital again. She's really down. The medicine really keeps her beat down. I don't think he would want to leave her, tell you the truth.

Q. When you're 48 years old, a lot of guys are thinking about that Champions Tour. Does that just seem like something you would not even be interested to do when you turn 50, the way you are playing right now?
KENNY PERRY: A lot of people have asked that question. I turn 50 next Augusta, next year, and I can't really answer that until I actually go out and play some of their events and go out and play. I'll definitely play some tournaments there next year.
But I'll just see how I am physically, where I'm at in my life, how the kids are all doing, what we are doing. You know, I really don't know. That's going to be a tough question. I said I want to win 20 times on the PGA TOUR. If I'm going to achieve that goal, somehow I've got to stay out on the regular TOUR and be very serious about it now. Will I? I don't know.

Q. When is the first time you beat your father in anything?
KENNY PERRY: I was 14. I beat him on the golf course, finally. (Laughter).
You know how I did it? He was -- the ninth hole at our course was a par 3, and he's 1-up on me. He says, "I've got you again."
I hit a 4-iron in the hole for a 1. (Laughter) he made par and I finally beat him. And then it finally turned. I finally started beating him here and there and finally it was regular.

Q. Did you rub it into him at the time?
KENNY PERRY: Oh, yeah. I let him have it.

Q. Was it just nine holes?

Q. Did you play 18 or nine that day?
KENNY PERRY: It was 18. You just go around. You just keep going.

Q. What's the name of that course?
KENNY PERRY: Franklin Country Club.

Q. How old is your father?
KENNY PERRY: He is 85.

Q. What's your mother's name?

Q. How old is she?

Q. Could we get the distance on the birdies?
RONALD TOWNSEND: Could you take about your birdies and club selections, please?
KENNY PERRY: No. 2 was probably -- I birdied the first hole. I hit a 9-iron probably ten feet left of the hole. Got that in.
2, bunker shot to about four feet past.
12, I hit an 8-iron about 20 feet past. Was able to get that in.
15, I hit a driver, 5-iron, just long, pitched it to a foot.
And then 18, I hit a driver and an 8-iron to, you know, three feet, two feet.

Q. Did you grind on any pars at all today?
KENNY PERRY: The only hole I was in trouble on was 7. I hit a driver and an 8-iron that landed in between the bunkers on the upslope that did not quite get on it and it rolled back down and I hit a beautiful pitch. It lipped out to about an inch past the hole.

Q. We have had players come to this Tour and their father was abusive and/or demanding of them, and it destroyed them. It obviously has not destroyed you.
KENNY PERRY: Well, my dad wasn't demanding. I love the game. He didn't have to -- a lot of the kids they send to Leadbetter Academies or whatever, it's nonstop 24/7 golf, golf, golf. I played every sport, baseball, football, basketball, and to me, it was not a 24/7 job for me.
Dad loved it. They loved coming to all my sports events. So I think that's the difference. I wasn't 100%, every day, 24/7 after that deal.

Q. But the fact that he made fun of you and really didn't say --
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, but I still loved him. It wasn't like some of these demanding dads. It was a very loving household. So that was the difference I think.

Q. Outside of us asking about it all the time, the '96 PGA, does that ever cross your mind?

Q. It does?

Q. You do think about it?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, I think about it a lot. It's been with me a long time.

Q. Did you see your approach to 18? Did you see close it was?
KENNY PERRY: When I saw the crowd jumping up and screaming, I figured it was pretty close. (Laughter).

Q. At this tournament, your record here as been not --
KENNY PERRY: No record, yeah. Not good.

Q. What does it mean to you to have a share of the lead after 36 holes?
KENNY PERRY: Well, that's another first for me, for one thing. At least I can tell everybody, I led the Masters once in my life. I think that's pretty cool.
But I think I'm mature enough now to handle it. I think I'm ready to handle the situation. Back in the mid-90s if I was in this situation, I would have been a totally different person. I'm very relaxed. I'm ready to go. My game is good, my swing is good, my putting is good. Usually when I get in those areas, I'm able to kind of hang in there with them.
RONALD TOWNSEND: Thank you, and good luck the rest of the week, Kenny.

End of FastScripts

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