Pat Perez, a romantic? Who knew?
“It’s called class,” said Perez with a laugh, when asked to tell the story of his New Year’s Eve proposal to girlfriend Ashley Pendley.
Invited to a private party at the MGM in Las Vegas, Perez asked for permission to have the stage before the headliner, Stevie Nicks, came on to perform. “I only need two minutes,” he said.
Once on stage, Perez, 37, asked for Pendley to come forward. When she did, he got down on one knee. A video clip of the moment was shown, and at that point, there’s a long pause followed by an emphatic, “Yes.” But Perez said he wasn’t nervous in those moments of silence.
“I knew she was going to say yes,” Perez said. “Like (a good friend) said, ‘Just think if she had said no how hard it would be to hide.’ But it was good; it was fun. Some of our friends were there.”
When he said the private party was in an arena where 16,000 can comfortably be seated, Perez knew the next question before it was asked. “Yeah, it’s for all their high-rollers – and me. (They had) $280 million in credit – and my $500.”
Pendley was wearing the impressive diamond at the Sony Open. Perez, who finished in a logjam for T-8, was asked about details of the ring. “You’re asking the wrong guy,” he said. “It’s only 11 carats, not like it’s overdone. It’s strong. It’s up there.”
Asked about a wedding date, Perez shrugged. November, maybe December: “We’ll see how I play.”
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PANAMA PUSHED BACK BY WEB.COM: As planned, the 2014 Web.com Tour season will begin outside the borders of the United States. But the locale will be Colombia on Feb. 13-16 and not Panama as originally scheduled Feb. 6-9.
Instead, the Panama Claro Championship will be rescheduled for March 20-23 in Panama City to afford officials more time to get the course in shape. An agronomical issue with several of the greens at Panama Golf Club prompted officials to make the move.
The Web.com Tour has yet to release its full schedule.
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DALY KEEPS BUSY: On the matter of schedules, John Daly might not have much status, but he sure keeps his bags packed.
The Sony Open was a medical exemption; he left Honolulu and headed right for California and the Humana Challenge, then it will be two in a row in the Middle East – Qatar and Dubai – after which he’ll tee it up back in California, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Daly said he had asked for an exemption into next week’s Farmers Insurance Open but in the meantime was given a spot in Qatar.
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ATTEN-HUT: As Billy Hurley cut across the first fairway at Waialae Country Club in mid-morning of Round 2 to get to the chipping area for some practice, he crossed paths with PGA Tour rookie Peter Malnati coming off the first tee. Malnati stopped and saluted, as did his caddie, and with a wide smile, Hurley returned the salutes.
For all the teenagers turning pro before they can shave and all the talented collegians leaving the amateur ranks before they’re ready, it’s worth a reminder that Hurley, 31, has authored one of the most heartwarming routes onto the PGA Tour. After his four years at the U.S. Naval Academy, Hurley served his country for four years, giving his opposition that much of a head start, but not regretting a minute of it.
In many ways, the Sony Open offered a homecoming, for Hurley was stationed two years in Honolulu.
“It has a little home-game feel to it,” he said. “Flying in Sunday night, looking out the airplane window, it felt like coming home, not like going to a random city.”
As he did a year ago, Hurley accepted an invitation to pay a visit to his former ship; he was accompanied by his caddie and a few other players. Hurley also fashioned a Navy golf bag and a Navy golf hat at the Sony, but part of that had to do with a corporate deal being not quite finished. Come the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Hurley will have Secor Group emblazoned on his bag and hat.
He also hopes for a chance to play at Pebble Beach, where last year he was the victim of an unfortunate situation. Hurley accepted a sponsor exemption and flew cross-country to play – only to find out when he landed that he wasn’t eligible for an exemption, so he went home.
“It is on my calendar. I’m planning on playing. It’s not like I’m going to skip it because I’m mad at them,” Hurley said. “I might skip it because my wife’s due the next week with our third child. Right now I’m planning on playing.”
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GOOD PLACE TO PLAY, OR REST: Maui was a destination point at the first of the year for more than the 30 PGA Tour members who had won tournaments in 2013. The island also appealed to a few who were looking for a convenient vacation spot before teeing it up at the Sony Open.
Retief Goosen, Ryan Palmer, Scott Verplank and Rory Sabbatini all spent some R&R on Maui before teeing it up in Honolulu.
For Goosen, it was yet another test for his back, which forced him to the sidelines at last year’s Players Championship. He sat out several months but returned to action in the fall and feels like he’s made some progress. “Obviously, it’s not been great the last four years,” said Goosen, who will be 45 Feb. 3. “Nothing had really helped.”
The South African, whose seven Tour victories include the 2001 and ’04 U.S. Opens, reported no worries with the back thus far.
Palmer took his wife and two children to Disneyland for a couple of days, then onward to Maui. Great time had by all, he sent the family home before settling down for work at the Sony Open. “I know I need to play good to pay for that trip, I guess,” said Palmer, who did just that.
He shot par or better each day, finished 10 under, and tied for eighth.