Quietly in contention, Pat Perez is a perfect match for Carnoustie in every way possible

July 20, 2018
Pat Perez

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Pat Perez is not worried about what they give you when you win this event, though he’d be glad to take it home with him. He’s not worried about going into the weekend of this British Open in the thick of the hunt. He’s not worried about the bogey he made on the last early Friday night, when his tee shot snaked into a trap that leaves a guy nothing but a pitchout. Even with his 5 on 18 he went around in 68, after a Thursday 69. He’s one off the lead. What he wanted to do on 18 was get in, sign his card and call his wife, Ashley, who is eight months pregnant.

“It’s hard,” he said, going the five-plus hours on the course without talking to her. Ashley is at home in Scottsdale and, based on the photograph she posted on her Instagram, she is handling her pregnancy spectacularly well.

Perez’s comment about the photo on her feed is nothing if not straightforward. The spellings and grammar choices are his: “you’re sexy as f— babe. Can’t wait to see that little girl in yo belly. Miss you.”

So he’s got that going for him, which is—

ALL TOGHER NOW:

—nice.

There is no course or club in the British Open that is less stuffy and more comfortable for the working person than Carnoustie, and there are few golfers in the field who wear their working-class background as effortlessly as Perez, who is sneaky smart about the game broadly and his game specifically. He’s in the mold of Mark Calcavecchia, winner of the 1989 Open. Perez is not nearly as long as Calc was in his prime, but he plays fast, he has a loose demeanor and he speaks openly. Pure Calc.

Perez is 42, as is Tiger Woods, and he and Woods played many rounds of junior golf together in Southern California. They still play some practice rounds together. The 2018 Woods would love to have Perez’s putting game.

Asked Friday how he would assess his record in majors, Perez said, “Terrible—how would you describe it?” He played in his first major in 2002 and this is his 25th. He has one top-10 finish. Terrible sounds like an accurate summation, except for the fact that to play in 25 majors is an incredible accomplishment. This is his fifth Open. He loves Carnoustie.

“I’ve played here numerous times,” he said. He has a modest paunch, a jet-black mullet and was wearing a flat-brimmed cap bearing the letters PXG. The PXG boss, Bob Parsons, walked a practice round with Perez on Tuesday.

“There’s something about this place that I think is fantastic. It’s hard enough that I don’t feel like I have to hit perfect shots. You can miss a shot and it won’t run off and go off the green 40 yards. You’ll still have some kind of shot. You can putt. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”

Plus, he likes the fans.

“The fans are so awesome here,” he said. “They know a good shot. They don’t laugh at you if you hit a bad shot. They know it’s hard. The knowledge of those people is just phenomenal. That’s what also makes it so special. You don’t have drunk guys out in the bushes making fun of you. When they clap, they actually mean it.”

He has not been sampling the local ales. “I’m more of a screrwdriver guy myself,” he said. “A little bit of Woodford. That’s when it goes dark. That’s when bad nights happen.”

Pat Perez isn’t thinking about his nights now. He’s looking for two good days and then flying home—with or without the old jug—seeing his wife, asking her in person about the little girl in her belly.