5 Things: Perry glides to Senior Open win
Back-to-back birdies at Nos. 14-15 enabled Kenny Perry to comfortably ride pars the rest of the way into the clubhouse for the 2013 U.S. Senior Open title.
Perry topped Fred Funk by five shots, with Rocco Mediate and Corey Pavin another shot back, as he claimed his second straight major.
Here are 5 Things to Know about Perry's triumph at Omaha (Neb.) CC:
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1. KENNY CAN: Another major, another come-from-behind triumph for Kenny Perry. The Kentuckian had been known for coming up short in the 1996 PGA Championship and the 2009 Masters, and had done the same in May in the Senior PGA Championship – three up with six holes to play before fading.
But he followed up his Senior Players Championship win of two weeks ago in style by claiming the U.S. Senior Open.
The ninth player to win consecutive senior majors, Perry credited the boost his psyche got from coming in with a win under his belt.
"I came in here on a high with a lot of confidence, and this golf course really fit a long hitter," Perry said. "I mean, if you could hit it fairly straight, you could really take advantage of this golf course.
"So I told Freddy (Couples) in my practice round on Tuesday, I said, you know what, this course is hard to walk, and it's hot, I said, but we got a big advantage here if we can figure out how to keep that driver in play. For the most part, I drove it pretty good."
Perry also said his putter made the difference.
". . . My putter really woke up this weekend; I don't know why," Perry said. "I'm a streaky putter, and then when my putter does show up, great things happen for me.
"I made a bomb on the 3rd hole. That par 3 was 230 straight down the hill, and I hit it on the front of the green, and I made about a 30 footer with probably six foot of break, and I said, 'Game on.' I said, I was ready to go. From then on, I just . . . I had a lot of looks, a lot of opportunities, made a lot of nice putts."
Both aspects showed in the week's statistics. Perry led in driving distance, averaging 300.5 yards, and tied Willie Wood for fewest putts at 113.
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2. FUNK FACTORS IN: Fred Funk was under par three of four days in Omaha to finish second for the third time since 2008 and the second year running. He won in 2009.
Although there wasn't much of a duel to be had Sunday, Funk kept himself in contention with a 68 that saw him play 1 under on each nine.
“Kenny just played phenomenal,” Funk said. “I played with him the first two days [of the Senior Players Championship] at Fox Chapel, and through 30 holes, he wasn't doing anything. All of a sudden, he just went crazy.”
Funk led the field in both fairways hit (44) and greens in regulation (56).
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3. MEDIATE MUSCLES IN: Rocco Mediate made things interesting for a while, pulling within two strokes of Perry at one point before bogeying No. 16 as Perry made back-to-back birdies to all but seal the deal.
Three straight birdies at Nos. 13-15, however, had already put Mediate in position for a 63 and a T-3 finish.
“It was just a matter of, I know he's going to still make birdies," Mediate said of the bogey. "I know he wasn't going to go the other way. Tried to swing a 6-iron on 16. I didn't swing it. It was too pretty, actually. I needed to kind of dive in there and get back."
It was five years after Mediate, a six-time PGA Tour winner, gave Tiger Woods an epic run for his money at Torrey Pines.
“Hey, I had a blast,” he said. “I gave it everything I had. … It was good. It was a good final day. It was fun to feel that again. This is my favorite tournament, whether it’s the other Open or our Open, I love it. . . . It's still the hardest test we have and our biggest tournament."
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4. HANZEL TAKES LOW-AM HONORS: Doug Hanzel, the only amateur to make the cut this week, finished with a pair of 73s to claim his medal. The 56-year-old pulmonary-critical-care and sleep-medicine doctor from Savannah, Ga., closed strong with two birdies in his last four holes.
He qualifies for next month's U.S. Amateur in Brookline, Mass., as well as the U.S. Mid-Amateur in October and the Senior Amateur in September.
Hanzel had to skip the awards ceremony after the tournament, flying home for work Monday. Another evidence he's very much a full-time working man came in his response about how much he gets to work on his game: “Practice golf or practice medicine? I’d like to practice more golf, but I’ve got a full-time job.”
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5. SHORT SHOTS: At T-9 with a 2-under total, Tom Lehman was the top finisher among Senior Open entrants headed to next week's Open Championship at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland; Fred Couples (T-14, 1 under), Tom Watson (T-23, 2 over), Mark O'Meara (19th, even par) and Mark Calcavecchia (T-54, 9 over) are the others. . . . Corey Pavin made five straight birdies from Nos. 7-11 Sunday to rise as high as second, finishing with a 67 and T-3 with Mediate. . . . Sunday’s attendance of 34,354 is believed to be the largest turnout for a sporting event in Omaha’s history, eclipsing the previous day’s total of 32,994 and 31,969 for horse racing at the old Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in July 1982, the USGA said. . . . Two par 4s, Nos. 8 and 10, were Sunday's toughest holes, with scoring averages of 4.58 and 4.56, respectively. . . . Three par 5s ranked as the easiest for the week, with the 540-yard No. 6 averaging 4.60 strokes, the 548-yard No. 2 averaging 4.89 and the 523-yard No. 14 averaging 4.92.
– The USGA and Champions Tour contributed