Kenny Perry's storm deadly accurate at Fox Chapel Golf Club
July 2, 2013 8:00 AM
Kenny Perry holds the trophy after winning the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club Sunday afternoon.
By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The pro-am was shortened because of a vicious Tuesday night storm that dumped nearly 3 inches of rain on the golf course. The opening round was delayed nearly five hours because of another storm. And the second round was suspended when two more fronts blew through Fox Chapel Golf Club.
Now comes the cleanup and restoration of the course.
But not from the weather.
From Kenny Perry.
He set two scoring records on the weekend when he won the 30th Constellation Senior Players Championship by two shots over Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf -- one for 36 holes, one for 54 holes.
He made 19 birdies and two eagles in his final three rounds and did not have a bogey in the final 37 holes. He missed only three greens on the weekend and only one fairway Sunday, and his winning score of 19-under 261 was five shots better than the winning total a year ago.
The biggest damage to the course was not inflicted by the weather. Rather, it was the bruise Perry inflicted on the course's pride, an assault nobody saw coming at Fox Chapel.
And Perry, who won his first major championship of any kind, was all but apologetic for his performance.
"The weather really dictated the course this week," Perry said. "There's no way to shoot 19 under on this golf course under firm and fast conditions, that's not going to happen."
Perry shot that and more in the final three rounds.
After opening the tournament with 71, Perry put together back-to-back scores of 63 in the second and third rounds and closed out his victory with a final-round 64. That's 20 under in just three rounds -- a 54-hole scoring record for the tournament.
His 36-hole total of 63-63 -- 126 also was a tournament record, breaking the mark of 128 set by Jack Nicklaus 23 years ago.
"The rough was very penal this week," Perry said. "If we would have had this rough last year, the scores would have been a lot higher. Last year you could hit it in the rough. You could actually advance it on to the green, no problem. This year you were struggling, you were chipping out.
"You had to really pay attention to what you were doing if you missed the fairways. But being soft conditions, a ball that looked like it was going to miss the fairway stayed in the fairway, so it didn't really run off into the rough. All the fairways played wider this week than normal.
"So the golf course being soft made it play easier than it should normally play. That's why you saw the good scores."
In addition, because of the rain that delayed the opening round and the subsequent storms that followed each day, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball in the fairway every day. That's another huge advantage for players.
"I was able to get my hands on it, clean it, give me a good lie," Perry said. "And I was able to control the golf ball going into the greens."
To Perry's credit, he controlled his shots into the soft greens better than his pursuers -- Couples and Waldorf -- by taking an extra club and swinging easier, thereby imparting less spin on the ball.
That's what Perry did on the 146-yard 11th hole when he made birdie -- hitting a 9-iron instead of a pitching wedge after he saw his playing partners back their balls on the green.
"Duffy had a couple that just spun right off the green into some bad shot spots," Perry said. "I was hitting golf shots I wasn't really comfortable with, to tell you the truth -- 110-yard pitching wedges, normally that's my stock 56-degree sand wedge. So I was just it choking [down] and just three-quarter swinging and it was turning out perfect. They were coming in kind of dead-handed and stuff."
Dead-handed, perhaps. But enough to bruise the course's pride.