Who climbed and who dropped in 2012? Through Dec. 31, Golfweek.com takes a look at players who made significant moves up or down in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index this year.
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Ranking/movement: +52 (No. 92 to No. 40)
Why the rise? More consistency, a return to left-hand-low putting, improved attitude and stronger focus.
The games of many touring professionals have suffered when they’ve gone through divorce. But Perez elevated the consistency of his performance during what he called a “friendly” and “mutual” divorce that was finalized in summer. He finished in the top 30 in more than half of his PGA Tour starts (12 of 23).
“I was more focused,” said Perez, 36, winner of the 2009 Bob Hope Classic. “I didn’t get as down when things went wrong. I tried to change my mentality a little bit this year with all the crap that’s gone on and try to find positives in other things. When I’m out here, I don’t think about (the divorce) or anything. I have this great gift of forgetting things.”
Perez moved up in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, which values consistency, on the strength of those dozen top 30s. He rose even though he had but one top 10 compared with four last year. He was held back by a final-round scoring average that was more than a stroke higher than his average before the cut (70.33, ranking 26th) .
“I was more consistent but didn’t really do much when it counted on the weekend,” said Perez, who made 18 cuts. “I played better as a whole all year but never put anything together.”
Overall, his ballstriking statistics improved slightly. And he went from 71st to 58th in putting (strokes gained).
He tried a long putter in practice and a belly version for about a month in competition until his speed suffered. He reverted to, and finally settled on, crosshanded putting.
“It’s the only way I can putt,” Perez said. “It’s the only time I get my body square and I can see the line. I’m all messed up (putting conventionally). I can’t see the line. Bottom line, you’ve got to see the line to make putts.”
Perez says: “My whole deal is getting my swing on the correct plane and hitting the inside of the ball. I work on the same things all the time – driving it better, driving it longer, long-iron play and hitting wedges closer and making more putts. It’s the same constant battle for me all the time. I’ve got to try to hit my long irons better because I don’t hit it as long as these guys. I’ve got to hit it in play, and if I putt well I’m going to play well. That’s my bottom line.”