by Jeff Skinner
Kenny Perry broke through with his first Champions Tour win yesterday even though he was playing with the heaviest of hearts and would have rather been home with his family. Perry’s sister Kay had passed away on Saturday from breast cancer.
Perry has had a great career. He’s won 14 times on the PGA Tour including multiple win seasons in 2003, 2008 and 2009. He’s won a Ryder Cup at in his home state of Kentucky and hit his prime after he turned 40. But he is probably most remembered for his meltdown in 2009 at The Masters. He had a two shot lead with two holes left but squandered the lead and ended up tied for second.
After that Masters, with his son crying at his side, he truly showed what kind of man he is. He stood there and answered every tough question, as painful as they were, with honest and thoughtful responses. He spoke of the pain he felt, he said he blew it and that it indeed did hurt. He was so impressive with his composure after such a devastating loss that he was the story of The Masters, not the winner Angel Cabrera.
The season got better for Perry a few months later when he won at The Travelers for his second win of the season. After that win he was asked about how his appeal skyrocketed since his Masters interviews. He spoke then of what was important in life and that his mother was battling cancer and there are things in life more important than golf or winning.
After the second round of the Champions Tour’s SAS Championship Perry was given the news that his sister had lost her fight with cancer. It was two years to the day that he had lost his mother. He was devastated and was going to withdraw to be with his family. But his father talked him into playing the final round for his sister.
“When I heard the news last night, it was a long night,” Perry said. “I didn’t sleep a lot, thought about just getting on a plane and heading home. But Dad was great. He called me, he said, ‘Son, you just need to go out there and represent Kay today.'”
“I was very calm all day. I had no nerves,” Perry said. “Normally, I’m a little jumpy, a little jittery, tense. Today, I was just — I felt like I was on a low. I was really down. I was kind of depressed, and my swing was in rhythm. It wasn’t fast, and I had great control of the golf ball.”
“I really wasn’t thinking a lot about winning. I just wanted to make her proud and somehow, you know, the eagle fell in the bottom of the cup on 17, and I felt like I know they are watching. I felt like I had some help up there. Excited to win, but I’d rather have my sister back.”
It was a bittersweet moment for Perry as he claims if first win after 50 under the gloom of his sister’s passing. But Perry once again has proved what kind of man he is.