When Kenny Perry first set out to make it as a professional golfer, his goals were modest. He simply wanted to be able to earn a living and support his family; if he could ever earn a PGA Tour victory, that would be icing on the cake.
The notion of being a star was perhaps the furthest thing from Perry's mind. Now, it appears the 47 year old might just have to deal with a new and improved reality.
Perry posted a playoff victory over Brad Adamonis and Jay Williamson Sunday to capture the John Deere Classic. The win on the first extra hole at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., gave Perry his third victory in his last five starts and propelled him to second in the FedEx Cup standings, trailing only Tiger Woods.
"It's been a great run - never had a run like this," Perry told reporters. "Definitely, by far my best year ever at 47. I guess 47 is now the new 30."
A 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, Perry isn't exactly a stranger to periods of sustained success. He won the Memorial and the Colonial in back-to-back outings in 2003, but said he's never played this well for this long, as he joined Woods as the only players with three Tour victories in 2008.
Again, Perry credited his success to his drive to earn a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. His motivation stems from his desire to play in the event, played at Valhalla Golf Club in Perry's home state of Kentucky.
"I think it is all due to just trying to be focused on the Ryder Cup," said Perry, who also won the Memorial on June 1 and the Buick Open in his previous start on June 29. "That goal of mine to make the team really lit a fire under me to really get out there and work at it and be patient. It just taught me a lesson. I need to set goals for myself."
Perry shot a 1-under-par 70 in the final round to finish at 16-under 268. He left the door open for Adamonis and Williamson by making a bogey on his final hole of regulation play, but came back to par the par-4 18th hole in the playoff, while his two competitors both found the water and made bogey.
The victory was worth $750,000 and earned Perry a spot in this week's British Open at Royal Birkdale. However, he's sticking with his season-long strategy of playing the courses he feels he has the best chance to win on — even if it means skipping majors.
Perry, who has been criticized in the media for his approach, said he's totally content with his decision to play in the PGA Tour's stop in Milwaukee this week.
"My stroke average at the British Open is 76-point whatever [in] probably six or seven events," Perry said. "I'm not good when it gets 40 and 50 degrees and 50 mph winds. I like hot weather. I am a hot-weather guy."
Unlike Perry, Williamson said he will accept an invitation to play in the British Open, earning the slot by shooting a final-round 69 — one stroke better than Adamonis. Williamson said the opportunity to play in his first British Open helps to offset the disappointment of his playoff loss.
Williamson's runner-up finish Sunday marked the second of his career. He also lost in a playoff to Hunter Mahan at the 2007 Travelers Championship.
"I don't think that has quite sunk in yet," Williamson told reporters. "I am blinded by the playoff. To go play the British Open, I mean, I never thought that would happen to me. So, obviously, I am really looking forward to it."
Adamonis said the second-place tie is a good stepping stone in the career of the 35-year-old PGA Tour rookie.
"I wish I could have won, but that's just the way it goes," Adamonis told reporters. "I made a step in the right direction. Hopefully I can build off that."
Sunday's playoff marked the eighth playoff of the 2008 PGA Tour season and the sixth in John Deere Classic history. The last playoff at this event came in 2004, when Mark Hensby defeated John E. Morgan on the second playoff hole to win his only Tour title.
The only other three-man playoff this year came at the Stanford St. Jude Championship, where Justin Leonard defeated Trevor Immelman and Robert Allenby on the second playoff hole.
July 14, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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