With strong play, and opinions, Pat Perez would be wildest Ryder Cup wild card

June 30, 2012

You want to ramp up the Ryder Cup even more this fall? Make Pat Perez a captain’s pick. He will bring energy (24-hour), swagger (Southern California) and several boxing glove head covers (crimson red).

The Euros won’t know what hit them.

Perez has some work to do, of course. He’s 49th in the U.S. standings and his lone PGA Tour win came three years ago at the former Bob Hope Classic. It would take a serious burst of quality play to even land on the radar of captain Davis Love III.

Short of earning a spot in the biennial tussle, Perez can at least take solace in a percolating game. He shot a second consecutive two-under-par 69 on Friday that left him three shots behind Hunter Mahan at the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club.

Perez’s strong play at Tiger Woods’s annual tournament is the continuation of a solid 2012, which has featured eight finishes of T25 or better in 15 starts, including a T9 at the Byron Nelson Championship, a T12 at the Shell Houston Open and a T13 at the Northern Trust Open.

To hear Perez tell it, he has been flushing his shots of late.

“My game’s nice right now,” Perez said last month during the Nelson. “I’ve done a lot of work.”

Once known only for his volatile temper — he famously took swipes out of the hallowed sod at Pebble Beach in 2002 — Perez has mellowed (slightly) and made a life on the PGA Tour, earning $12,924,188 since turning pro in 1997. (That’s 86th all-time).

A fast player, Perez is also one of the more vocal advocates for dealing with the slow play issue that has become a problem throughout the game.

After finishing a round at the Nelson, he asked how long it took his group to play. Told 4 hours and 50 minutes, Perez shook his head with disbelief. “Incredible,” he said of the slow pace. “If you start giving [slow players] strokes, it’ll be flying out here. The idea to play fast is to get everybody around. You have 156 guys. It’s not about you. Why does everyone have to wait for you? The idea is to get everybody done [with their rounds].”

Perez has thought deeply about the issue of slow play.

“The problem is that a lot of the guys don’t get their [yardage] numbers until it’s their turn [to hit],” he said. “The ball’s in the air, it hits the green, and then he goes and gets his number, throws up his wind, talks with his caddie, pulls a club, takes his two practice swings and then he goes. Why can’t you do all that before?”

Makes sense. And if the Ryder Cup team is a long shot, maybe he’s working on a future as PGA Tour commissioner.