PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Left-hander Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla., responded to self-induced pressure Thursday with his victory in the opening event of the 37th annual PGA Tournament Series.
Perry won by two strokes with 70-68—138 on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club. First-round leader Brian Cairns of Walled Lake, Mich., was second at 69-71—140.
The head professional at Crane Lakes Country Club, Perry, 39, was leading the PGA of America's Professional Player of the Year point standings entering the six-event Tournament Series. The Tournament Series is the final opportunity to earn points this year. Each victory is worth 50 points and points will also be awarded to the top 10 on the money list following the final event Dec. 17.
"Winning that award would be a big honor and I felt the only chance I would have is to play in these tournaments," Perry said. Since the second Tournament Series event is scheduled Sunday and Monday on the adjacent Wanamaker Course here, "I will have to miss the Riviera Open this weekend for the first time in maybe 15 years," he added.
The 53rd Riviera Open is scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Riviera Country Club in Ormond Beach. The Riviera Open was one of the foundation events of the old Florida PGA and North Florida PGA winter tours and is now part of the Florida Professional Golf Tour. It traditionally draws more than 100 entries.
Perry thought he had lost his chance to win Thursday when he bogeyed the 10th and 12th holes. But he hit driver-driver to the 13th green and made a 25-foot putt for eagle, then sank a cross-green 70-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th. "After that, I thought I still might have a chance," he said.
Cairns made five birdies (Nos. 4, 5, 8, 11 and 17) and bogeyed the first, second, 10th and 12th holes.
There were 24 entries for the Ryder event but 32 have signed up for Wanamaker play. Perry received $1,650 from the $6,000 purse.
PGA Tournament Series
PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Ryder course, 7,020 yards, par-72
Rod Perry, Port Orange, Fla. $1,650 70-68—138
Brian Cairns, Walled Lake, Mich. $1,070 69-71—140
John Seltzer, Ann Arbor, Mich. $766.66 74-67—141
Rick Schuller, Chester, Va. $766.66 70-71—141
Ryan Kalista, Old Greenwich, Conn. $766.66 69-72—141
Bob Sowards, Dublin, Ohio $540 70-72—142
Craig Czerniejewski, Ocvonomowoc, Wis. $146.66 72-71—143
Liam Friedman, Lackawanna, N.Y. $146.66 72-71—143
Tim Puetz, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. $146.66 70-73—143