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June 23, 2010

Kenny Perry


DOUG MILNE: I'd like to welcome defending champion Kenny Perry to the interview room. Talk a little bit about defending your title. I know it's been a short week coming from the West Coast. Talk about that, and then we'll take questions.
KENNY PERRY: First off I gotta thank the Travelers for that nice charter that we left from Monterey Monday morning, flew us straight into here, got here about 5:00 Monday afternoon. And pretty jetlagged. I went to bed about 8:30 Monday night and slept till 8 the next day. So I was wiped out from the U.S. Open, which was a pretty tough week, pretty tense, pretty over the top.
You know, it just magnified every little mistake you had. You just had such a small margin for error that it was just -- I think I only hit like six greens on Sunday, ended up shooting 3-over on Sunday, but I played nicely, hit good shots and couldn't get them to hold on those firm greens, and the putting was --
It was nice to come here yesterday. I played a practice round with Vijay Singh, Boo Weekley and Blake Adams. We had a nice little game, a lot of laughing. You didn't have a lot of laughing last week. We had a blast, and we had a lot of fun.
And the golf course here is in magnificent shape. The greens were great. It was nice to know from three feet you know if you hit a good putt, it was going in, wasn't going to bounce off line.
And I don't know about poa annua when it's stressed out like it was there. That was some tough putting last week, but it's always great to be back to a place you've won. I'm kind of a creature of habit. Seems like when I win once, I win that tournament a couple of times, so I told them earlier in the media when I came back for media day this year, I've never done very good in defense. If I was ever going to defend a title, this is probably the place I could do it.
It's not an overly long golf course, but it requires a lot off the tee. You gotta be a great putter, and that's one thing I've struggled a little with this year is my putting, but I found another crazy last week that I used that I felt very comfortable with.
As you all know, my putter shaft rusted from the inside out and broke on me at the Mercedes this year, and I've reshafted it this time and can't seem to find the right shaft, the double-bend shaft to get it to look right anymore.
I remember Ben Crenshaw he always reshafted his 8802 I don't know how many times. He'd always tell me the shaft didn't feel right. So I kind of understand what he's talking about now.
So I think I'm going in the right direction there, and I think I made 12 out of 13 cuts this year. I've made a lot of cuts, but I'm finishing in that 15 to 40 range each week, so I'm close. I'm really close.
And last week was a positive, so you know, I'm really looking forward to this week. I think my game's in order. I hit the ball beautifully yesterday, so I'm looking forward to a great week.
DOUG MILNE: Thank you, Kenny. Questions?

Q. Is your flexibility and strength better since you started working with a trainer? It seems to have progressed.
KENNY PERRY: My distance has picked up. As you can see, I've lost almost 30 pounds, so I'm walking around the golf course is a lot better on my knee. My elbow's doing a lot better that I went and saw Dr. Andrews on. It's not causing me the problem it was earlier in the year, so yeah, my health is 100 percent better.
I know Boo yesterday was complaining his back was sore and all this. I said, I'm 16 years older than you. I said, I feel great. What's wrong with you? So I was giving him a hard way to go yesterday.
But yeah, actually it's been great. My flexibility's a lot better. My golf swing's coming back. I'm actually staying on top of the golf ball longer. The club's not sliding in underneath me. I'm actually hitting the center of the club face. When you get on the head of it, my club drops inside, club comes away from the inside and hit it in the heel.
I'm actually hitting the driver in the center of the face again. So that tells me I'm more on top of the golf club. It's staying inside my hands. I'm starting to do things last year that were right. So we're going in the right direction.

Q. Did the weight prevent you from doing that?
KENNY PERRY: Could have. I mean I was 235 and I'm at 205 right now. So it's a big change for me. It was a big change in my diet, big change in life basically. And I'm trying to get used to my old body, I guess, that I used to play with a long time ago.
I looked at my pictures here last year. I was pretty heavy when I won here last year, so I played okay at a heavy weight, but it just seemed like when I came back from Christmas this year, the first of the year, I was a different guy. I felt old. I felt tired. I felt no power, no strength. I felt weak, so I just said, you know what, if I'm going to compete anymore out here, I need to change, so I made the decision, and we're going to fight through it this year and see how it goes.

Q. What do you like about this course? You've played well before, you even won here last year. What is it about this course that you like?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I mean it's the kind of golf course that to me it's not -- it's got some beautifully visually intimidating holes, but yet it's got -- it's the kind of golf course to where if you can get it going, you can go low.
I shot 61 my first round, shot 63 on Sunday here last year. It's a fun golf course. In my opinion it's fun. It's fun to play. It's very difficult. It's very challenging, and yet it doesn't have the effect like a Pebble Beach at U.S. Open conditions that will make you feel claustrophobic; the fairways feel 10 yards wide.
It doesn't do that to me. It may do it to some other players. These fairways are more narrow. Maybe my shot shape fits good here. Like holes on 13 I know yesterday the par-5, the lake's down the right side, but my whole draw is perfect. I don't usually have to worry about the lake, where Blake, he's a fader, and Boo, they both flew it in the lake, so I got their money on that hole.
Anyway, you know, it's just -- and I love the finish here. I love 15, 16, 17 and 18. I mean it's just exciting finish. You got the risk-reward hole there, the drivable par-4, which is one of the great short holes we play on TOUR. And you got 16th, the underrated par-3 with the slope of the greens. It's always hard to pull the right club to get the exact yardage you need to get it near that hole because it's so easy to go over that green and you're back in that swell, and you're trying to putt it or chip it up the hill, and it's very difficult to do.
And you know, 17's the signature hole here with the water right and the bunkers left, and it's such a demanding tee shot where I hit 3-iron. Last year I remember they were kind of questioning, and I hit like a 7-iron stiff and made birdie.
So you know, it requires a lot of -- I think a lot of local knowledge has helped me over the years playing here all these years, kind of gives me a comfort factor on those holes. You know, I can see guys who have only played here one or two times stand up on that tee box and they'll get pretty intimidated by that hole.
But I don't know, maybe all my years, I think this is my 24th year out here. This may be my 22nd or 3rd or 4th Travelers. I don't know. I've played here so many times, it becomes like old hat. I know the hole. I know what to expect. I know what's coming, and I know how to prepare. So I think experience means a lot here.
The greens are in great shape. They putted beautifully yesterday, so I understand the greens. I know them. I pretty much know what they're going to do when I hit the ball on the green. Pretty much know the break when I get there, so that's very comforting knowing I don't have to really -- when I come here, it's not like a U.S. Open where I have to really prepare all the greens. I'm really stressed out, mentally working really hard Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to try to get ready for Thursday.
Here, I came in, played a nice practice round yesterday, the Pro Am today, and I won't be as mentally stressed out come tomorrow.

Q. A couple years ago you talked about wanting to get 20 wins out here, and I know you just kind of threw it out there, but I'm wondering is that still in the back of your mind?
KENNY PERRY: I said back then it's probably an unrealistic goal, but yet you gotta have goals, something to strive and shoot for, something to keep you motivated, keep you going.
It's like my goal at Valhalla in '08, I was pretty much out of the Ryder Cup picture until I went and won three in a row in the summertime and shot me right in on the Ryder Cup team.
So you know, I'm a streaky player, and when I win once, I can win two or three times. And it's happened. I've done it two or three times out here, and if I can somehow -- I'm getting close to where I think I can win again.
I kept telling Sandy, my wife, it was so disappointing earlier this year knowing I played my heart out and knowing the best I could finish was 25th. That's as good as I could do. I maxing out everywhere. I was chipping and scrambling, but then I was hitting loose shots and I was getting in trouble.
But now I got a chance to win again. My thinking's changing. My mental approach is changing. My golf game is changing. I've got my old set of R7 irons, I got them for the first time last week at Pebble, which is exciting to me.
They took the set I used the past three years, it's a new set of heads, but new grooves. So I'm playing the set I used for the past three years. I've been using different irons all year, different sets trying to get comfortable with the V-groove rule and didn't find anything that was comfortable, and they finally made me a set of R7s, and I'm excited.
My irons were great last week, my ball flight was back, my distance was back, so I'm still in a learning curve. I'm still learning. I've got a different putter, different irons, but the woods are the same and the wedges are the same, which are your scoring clubs. So I'm dialing in closer and closer. I'm getting closer to where I'm comfortable with every club in my bag. And pretty much my shot shape's coming back, the same shot shape I've been looking for, and I'm hitting it solid. I think that's all you can ask for is to hit it solid.
I think the key is to hit it pin high. It's important to hit it pin high. You don't want to be 10 by or 10 short. If you can control the pin high on all your golf shots, you can really play well out here.

Q. (No microphone).
KENNY PERRY: For me it's been hard on me because like yesterday I hit it in the rough on 17 just short of the bunker, and I hit a 7-iron that hit the -- it hit the grand stands on the green. I call it the green monster back there on the fly. I had 100 -- you know, I had 170 yards and I flew it 200 yards in the air and hit the wall back there. It came out rocketing.
You know, you can hit those and then you can hit some that come out soft, they don't come out at all, so it's a guessing game when it comes to -- you know, in the past with my square grooves, I never hit a flyer, actually not once. I couldn't get the ball to move out of the rough. It would come out soft and short, but I've done that before, playing for a week without the rough and it worked every time, where now I have to take the club I think is the right distance and just hope and pray, you know, it doesn't come out screaming like it did yesterday.

Q. Can you do a scouting report on your caddie?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah. Steve Parrish. As you all know, Steve is the gentleman his family I've stayed with for the past 24 years here, and my son is in a wedding this week; one of his best friends is getting married. So we planned this out. Justin said he really wanted this week off, so I gave him a week off.
First thing I thought of, it would be a pretty neat experience when that whole family ran on the green last year, we were celebrating the victory, and now to at least have Steve get out in the heat a little bit.
Yesterday, it was so funny, first yardage he gave me, he gave me 200 something -- it was only 180 something yards and he gave me 2. I was like, where did you come up with that? He goes, I added instead of subtracted. I'm like, you gotta be kidding me. (Laughs).
He was like, you know, he's sitting there, he's really kind of on pins and needles. He's sitting there, and he's not paying attention and there's the bag, and next thing you know, smash, I said on TOUR that's $100 fine for every time you let the bag hit the ground. He did that twice yesterday, as a matter of fact.
And today he's just riding out here, I looked at him and I said, man, you're nervous. He goes, I'm focused. I'm like, it's Pro Am day. Come on.
I don't know. It's going to be interesting to see -- I'll get more of a kick out of watching him than he will watching me, but it's going to be pretty interesting tomorrow watching him go.

Q. You're up there laughing and shaking your head at some point. That's probably it.
KENNY PERRY: Exactly. Oh, yeah. It's going to be a fun week no matter how it turns out, how I play.
You know, I'm kind of winding down my career here. Here I am, turn 50 here in two months, so I don't know what my schedule's going to be in two months. So I'm kind of enjoying the walk right now.
You know, the golf is still important to me and I still want to win. But you know, if I don't, it's fine. You know, my career's been awesome for where I've come from in life and what I've done and how long I've stayed out here and competed, and you know, I know I'm living on borrowed time out here on the TOUR with my golf game, but certain venues I can still be very competitive and that magic can still happen. So it may not be on a U.S. Open style venue, but I really think it can happen at an event like here.

Q. Any thoughts about how much you'll play Champions Tour as to playing here? I know in the past you talked about wanting to play here as long as you can.
KENNY PERRY: I'll definitely play all my tournaments. I'm still exempt through 2014 on this TOUR, so you'll see me play all my favorite events. I'll play here, Colonial, Memorial. I'll play all the events that I love, I enjoy the courses, the tournament chairmen, all the people I've come to love over the years: Phoenix. There's so many tournaments out there that do such a great job.
Just like here, Nathan and everybody do such a great job running this event. They make the players feel welcome, feel important. As cool as it is here with all the activities you can do, and every not tournament does that, especially last week. You know, it's all about their tournament last week. It's not about being the players.
So it's nice to come to a venue where you feel welcomed. So I'll play all the events I can enjoy, the courses I enjoy, and you'll see me pop on the Champions Tour some. Sandy, she's like the grandmother out here, the mother, the mom to all the wives, but she hangs out with all the girls and she's part of the big wives association and everything. She's got a lot of great friends out here, and she loves it. And she should have fun because she stayed home and raised the kids while I was traveling. Now she's getting to travel every week because my youngest just graduated from SMU, my three kids are out of the house, grown and gone. It's just me and her traveling.
If she enjoys the Champions Tour, we'll spend more time over there, but if she still likes it over here better, you'll see me playing over here more. It's not going to be a money thing or anything like that. It'll just be where me and her enjoy spending our week. That's kind of how we're going to approach, I think the Champions Tour.
DOUG MILNE: Thank you very much, Kenny. Good luck this week.
KENNY PERRY: Thank you.

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