Kenny Perry Kenny Perry edges closer to Ryder Cup bid after third Memorial victory

After letting a pair of opportunities slip away in recent weeks, Kenny Perry finally seized the day in the Memorial.

Perry shot a final-round 3-under-par 69 Sunday at Muirfield Village Golf Course to come from behind and post a two-shot victory in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event. It marked the first PGA Tour victory for the 47-year old Perry in three years, including 72 starts, and brought him one step closer to playing on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in his home state of Kentucky.

"I've still got a lot of time until September, but I'm off in the right direction," Perry said to reporters after being informed that he'd climbed to fifth in the Ryder Cup standings. "I played perfect today. I played 3 under on the front nine, that's the worst I could've shot, and didn't miss a shot. I played beautiful golf."

At least it was much better than in The Players Championship on May 11 when Perry dropped from contention with a final-round 81. Two weeks ago, Perry hit an errant shot that cost him a chance at a playoff victory in the AT&T Classic, where he finished second.

Perry became the oldest winner in Memorial history, prevailing at the age of 47 years, nine months, 22 days — more than a year older than Tom Watson was when he won in 1996. Perry is also the oldest winner on the PGA Tour this year.

The final-round rally marked the second time in Perry's 10 career victories that he has come from behind to win. His final score of 8-under 280 was the highest winning score at the Memorial Tournament since 1985, when Hale Irwin won with a 281.

After back-to-back birdies at Nos. 5 and 6, Perry birdied the par-4 ninth to make the turn at 3-under 33. He got it to 9 under for the tournament with a birdie at the par-5 15th hole, but made his only bogey the day at No. 17.

"I mis-clubbed a little bit on 17," Perry said. "The wind kind of got it, knocked it out of the air a little bit and I came up a little short, but to shoot 69 in tough, swirling conditions on a very fast, difficult golf course, I'm ecstatic."

Although he hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation Perry was able to keep his momentum going by getting up and down for par on both No. 12 and No. 14.

"Both those shots, I'm playing kind of long and safe, but I didn't want to hit it where I hit it," Perry said. "There's just no bail-out on those two holes. I hit two of the career chip shots of my life and then I made two tough putts on top of it. That's what it takes to win out here."

The winner's share of $1,080,000 made Perry the all-time earnings leader for the Memorial Tournament with $3,092,542, moving him past Tiger Woods, the only other three-time champion at the event. Perry, who previously won the Memorial in 1991 and 2003, is now the 18th active player with 10 or more PGA Tour victories.

Perry prevailed by two shots over Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose, Mike Weir and Mathew Goggin, who all tied for second at 6-under 282. Goggin was only the fourth player in Memorial Tournament history to hold the lead after the first, second and third rounds — none of them have gone on to win the event.

Goggin got off to a slow start Sunday, making three bogeys against one birdie in his first six holes. The first-time Memorial participant had two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine to fade out of the lead with a 2-over 74.

"It took me three, four holes to calm down," Goggin told reporters. "That was the difference."

Still, Goggin matched his career-best PGA Tour finish as he previously tied for second at the 2006 Western Open. The Australian now has 10 career top-10 finishes since joining the PGA Tour in 2000.

Rocco Mediate, Steve Lowery and Luke Donald tied for sixth place at 2-under 286. Geoff Ogilvy, who finished a 1-under 287, was the only other player to finish below par in the tournament, which featured lighting-quick putting conditions on the greens.

June 2, 2008

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