Surging Perry wins John Deere Classic
SILVIS, Ill. (AP) He never wanted to be the star, the main attraction, but Kenny Perry will have no choice if this continues. The guy who merely wanted to win enough to make the Ryder Cup team is now racking up victories at a rapid pace.
``I don't want to live in a fishbowl,'' he said. ``I don't want Tiger status.''
He's got a ways to go to get there, but he is attracting more attention than ever before.
Perry beat Brad Adamonis and Jay Williamson in a one-hole playoff to win the John Deere Classic and escape with his third victory in five starts after bogeying the 18th hole Sunday.
Perry had a one-stroke lead at 17-under through 17 only to lose it thanks to some poor shots from the fringe on the final hole of regulation. He and Williamson were off the course when Adamonis, the PGA Tour's oldest rookie at 35, missed an 18-foot putt for birdie that would have won it in regulation and given him his first victory.
The ball stopped 3 feet short and Adamonis was at 16-under 268 with the others. Perry, who was signing autographs, said he didn't see the shot. He just heard the roar and knew he had to get back on the course.
While Adamonis and Williamson both hit approach shots into the pond on No. 18, Perry tapped in from 1 feet, 4 inches for par and the victory after his 24-footer stopped just short.
He picked the ball out of the cup and raised both arms, an ear-to-ear grin crossing his face.
He has reason to smile.
He collected $756,000 with his 12th victory and is enjoying the best stretch of his career at an age - 47 - when players are getting ready for the senior tour. A guy with apparently no aspirations to be the next Arnie or Jack suddenly is one of the hottest players on the tour.
``I told my dad I was going to make the PGA Tour and win a tournament,'' he said. ``My goal was never to be a superstar. I just wanted to make a living and support my kids.''
Perry (1-under 70), Adamonis (70) and Williamson (69) were one stroke ahead of Charlie Wi (69), Will MacKenzie (70) and Eric Axley (69) after 72 holes.
Williamson earned an invitation to the British Open and, unlike Perry, accepted it.
``To play the British Open, I don't think that has quite sunk in yet,'' Williamson said. ``I am blinded by the playoff. To go play the British Open, I mean, I never thought that would happen to me.''
Now second behind Tiger Woods in the FedEx Cup standings, Perry might have been a threat there had he not decided to honor a commitment to play in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee instead. He's focusing on the Ryder Cup and on playing courses he thinks suit his game.
Like TPC Deere Run.
Perry pulled ahead at 17-under with a birdie on the par-4 14th, and stayed ahead with a putt to save par on the par-3 16th after a terrible chip from the fringe. After his tee shot settled about 19 feet from the hole, Perry overshot the cup by 16 feet.
Instead of a bogey, he knocked in the putt to maintain a one-shot lead over MacKenzie, but he wasn't as fortunate when a similar scenario unfolded on 18.
His approach settled on the fringe along the right side, 34 feet from the cup, and his chip shot went across the green to the fringe on the left side. Another chip shot for par went about 6 feet, and Perry hit a 6-foot putt for the bogey that opened the door for Adamonis and Williamson.
Adamonis then missed a chance on the final regulation hole.
``I know there was a chance to win,'' he said. ``I was like, 'Wow, this is pretty awesome.' I didn't hit a very good putt, but maybe next time.''
On a balmy, breezy day, Perry was erratic at times off the tee but his good fortune continued.
Perry lost a playoff at the AT&T Classic in May and won the Memorial two weeks later. He tied for sixth at the Travelers Championship and closed out June with another win at the Buick Open. The win on Sunday gives him five top-six finishes in seven starts and a four-year tour exemption that runs through 2012.
Other players have been touching him and asking what he's been eating lately, hoping to capture some of his magic. The galleries have been a little larger lately, too, and the PGA Tour even assigned him a security guard at the course.
It's all new for Perry, who has played more than two decades on the Tour.
If ever there was a time for him to win a major, this would seem to be it given his form and Woods' knee injury.
Of course, he's skipping the British Open, and he's doing that after passing on the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifying the day after his win at the Memorial.
Not that he wouldn't love to win a major, but his major goal at the moment is helping the U.S. team win the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville, about 40 miles from his birthplace.
``It lit a fire under me,'' he said.
Zach Johnson (71) finished at 1-under 283 for the tournament, another disappointing showing at what he considers his home event. He hopes to boost his chances for the U.S. Ryder Cup team with a strong showing at the British Open.
``I play I hard, I play good, things will take care of themselves,'' he said.