Insider: Perry's mind on home-state 2014 PGA Championship at ValhallaKenny Perry will play a few PGA TOUR events in 2014 but his ultimate goal is playing the 2014 PGA at Valhalla.November 12, 2013
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Kenny Perry has become very good at setting goals and even better at reaching them. So it’s no surprise that the newly crowned Charles Schwab Cup champion should have a significant target for 2014.
Hint: It has to do with his native Kentucky.
Perry is coming off, in his words, “a wonderful year.”
He won two majors this year on the Champions Tour – the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and the U.S. Senior Open. Those victories came after narrowly losing the Senior PGA Championship, where he had a 3-shot lead with five holes to play. Despite that disappointment, there is no quarreling with Perry’s conclusion.
“My play in the majors was fantastic,” Perry said. “Maybe I can get over the hump now and play better in the majors. Hopefully next year will be better.
“We'll cherish this year because, you know what, not too many people have one of these (Charles Schwab Cup trophy) and to be able to say that I did it once in my career is a dream come true to finally, here at 53, achieve something pretty significant in my golfing career.”
At 53, Perry is still fully exempt on the PGA TOUR for 2014.
“And I've got a top 25, top 50 all-time money I can use,” he said. “I've got options. Has anybody ever won the Charles Schwab Cup and then gone over and won the FedEx(Cup)?”
Perry’s tongue was planted firmly in his cheek – or was it?
“I don't know,” he said.
One thing Perry does know – is certain of, for that matter – is one of his major goals for 2014. The PGA Championship will be held at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville. Perry is a born and bred Kentuckian who lives in Franklin.
“I know Ted Bishop very well,” he said. “I’ve been trying to see if I can get into that tournament somehow. That would be an awesome way to go out.”
Bishop is the president of the Professional Golfers Association of America and director of golf at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Indiana.
The easiest way for Perry to get a ticket to play at Valhalla is to win the Senior PGA Championship next year at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. The Senior PGA champion qualifies for the PGA Championship.
When the Senior PGA Championship was held in 2012 on the course designed by Jack Nicklaus, Perry was ninth. He posted a course-record 62 in the final round to finish five shots behind the winner, Roger Chapman.
Even if he doesn’t win, there’s another road back to Valhalla for Perry. The PGA of America reserves the right to invite additional players not qualified in the 11 eligibility categories. With Perry’s history at Valhalla, he would be an obvious choice to be granted an exemption.
One of the really important goals in Perry’s career was to qualify for the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla. He accomplished that easily and in the biennial competition against Europe, Perry was one of the leaders and major contributors for Captain Paul Azinger’s winning United States side.
Twice in his career, Perry has been beaten in a playoff at a major championship. In 1996, he was beaten in the PGA Championship at Valhalla by Mark Brooks. In 2009, during his late-career resurgence, he lost the Masters to Angel Cabrera. The thought of getting back to Valhalla is simply too appealing.
But the 2014 PGA Championship aside, Perry is clear on where most of his tournament play will take place going forward.
He’s a Champions Tour guy now.
Physically, he’s doing fine. He is recovering nicely from a second knee surgery in February. On the Champions Tour he has the luxury of riding a cart in all but six tournaments. And he doesn’t expect walking to be a problem on the PGA TOUR.
“I'm definitely going to play the (Sony Open in Hawaii) starting out (2014) and I'll play Hualalai the next week (on the Champions Tour) and then I'll probably play LA and Phoenix, maybe Pebble Beach,” he said. “I'll actually play pretty hard because we've got a pretty good gap between the two tournaments in Florida on the Champions Tour. I'll probably play Honda and I'll probably play Innisbrook.”
“The first part of next year will be big for me because I'll be going at it pretty hot and heavy and if I still feel like I can compete out there on the (PGA) TOUR and feel like certain situations if I can get in the hunt again, that may change my thinking. But I love (the Champions Tour). I love the guys out here. It's just a fun place for me to hang out and end my career, so it's nice to have options. We'll see. If the beginning of the year goes good, I may play a few more, I may not, we'll just see.”
In many ways, Perry loves the PGA TOUR, too. When told that a victory there would make him the oldest winner in history, surpassing Sam Snead, it put a twinkle in Perry’s eye.
“I didn't really realize that,” he said. “I guess that could be something to shoot for. You never know, I'd like to beat those flat bellies. I antagonize those kids when I go out there now. I play pranks and tricks on them. I have a good time when I go to the PGA (TOUR) side, I like going out there to hang out.”
What he’d really like is to hang out with the young guys next year at the PGA Championship.