There wasn't much mystery to what Kenny Perry did for the final three rounds of the Constellation Senior Players Championship. Make birdies. Toss in a couple of eagles. Stay away from bogeys.
And, of course, win his first major championship of any kind after some painful near-misses.
If anyone thought the rain and mud wreaked havoc on the Fox Chapel Golf Club, they missed what Perry did to the softened Seth Raynor-designed layout. Back-to-back rounds of 63, a final-round 64 and no bogeys in his final 37 holes.
"I knew it was going to take a great score to win again [Sunday]," Perry said. "I knew it was going to be low."
In a tournament that was delayed and pounded by several nasty storms all week, the biggest front to blow through on the weekend was Perry, 53, who stormed past Fred Couples with birdies on two of the final three holes to finish at 19-under 261 and post a two-shot victory.
The victory helped ease the disappointment of Perry's two playoff losses in major championships on the PGA Tour -- the 1996 PGA Championship and the 2009 Masters.
It also got rid of some of the bad taste from a second-place finish at the Senior PGA Championship recently, where Perry blew a three-shot lead with six holes remaining.
"I thought I was snake-bit," Perry said. "I got close so many times where I didn't make it happen and I messed up in the stretch. [Sunday] I went the other direction. I hit great shots. It wasn't like I was trying to hold on. I was trying to make birdies, not pars."
Perry, a 14-time winner on the PGA Tour, set a 54-hole tournament scoring record of 20-under 190 -- a blitzkrieg that included 19 birdies and two eagles in the final three rounds.
The victory was Perry's third since joining the Champions Tour and was worth $405,000. It also gains him a spot in The Players Championship next year on the PGA Tour.
Couples, who shot a final-round 68, and Duffy Waldorf, who closed with a 64, finished at 17-under 263. The next-closest pursuer was Michael Allen (65), who was five shots back at 12-under 268.
"I had a great chance to win the Senior PGA and I blew that one coming in," Perry said. "I just couldn't seem to get over the hump of something when 'major' was attached to it.
"My word [Sunday] was patience and I just said, you know what, we're going to go out and just focus on the shot at hand. I'm not going to look ahead. I'm not going to look behind. I'm just going to play golf and let the chips fall where they may. And I hit it beautifully."
Perry's grandest moment came at No. 16, the 422-yard par 4, where he almost holed a pitching wedge from 125 yards, his ball stopping an inch from the cup for birdie. That gave him a two-shot lead with two holes remaining.
He followed that by hitting a 6-iron to 2 feet for another birdie at the 187-yard 17th -- the same hole where he had a hole in -one in the third round a year ago, using the same club and having the same yardage.
"That's a pretty good hole for me," Perry said, smiling.
The back-to-back birdies effectively put an end to the three-man race with Couples and Waldorf.
"I was trying to make birdies," Perry said. "I guess that was a different mindset from before where instead of trying to make pars, I was trying to make birdies. And this golf course allowed us to do it. It just set up for a classic shootout."
Couples hit all 14 fairways and missed only one green, but was done in by a balky putter.
He was tied with Perry after a 7-foot birdie at the par-4 14th. But the end came on the next hole when he three-putted from 8 feet, missing a 3-footer to save par. Couples did much the same earlier in the round when he drove the green at the 299-yard seventh and then three-putted for par, missing a 2 1/2-foot birdie.
"The putt looked so easy and I just hammered it and kind of flinched at it coming back down the hill," Couples said about the mishap at 15.
Perry said the final round would be guns-ablaze, and it was, but it was Waldorf who came out smoking.
He attacked the pins and birdied the first four holes, none more confidently than when he hit it to 18 inches at the par-3 third and 12 inches at the 485-yard fourth. That led to a front-nine 29 that gave him a one-shot lead on Couples and Perry at the turn.
But Waldorf's chances disappeared at the 344-yard 12th, when he bogeyed after his wedge approach landed in the gnarly rough behind the green. When he spun a wedge off the front part of the green at the 383-yard 15th for another bogey, he was all but tossed from the three-man race.
"I felt like I was sprinting in the mile and leading the first couple laps and got to a spot with that 29," Waldorf said. "But I wasn't able to play well on the back."
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com or twitter: @gerrydulac First Published June 30, 2013 6:15 PM