Perez shrugs off surgery and returns to the winner's circle
November 14, 2016
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Pat Perez notched 23 birdies and an eagle en route to victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Welcome to the Monday Finish where Pat Perez crushed his major medical exemption and gave hope to banged up golfers everywhere.
Here’s some observations and insights from the OHL Classic at Mayakoba:
1. There was a lot to like about the new attitude Pat Perez was bringing to the table on the way to his victory. Perez might be a little rough around the edges to some but you get the feeling he is not making any apologies for it. With a bravado and confidence seen in many champions Perez took a “step on the throat of his opponents” type attitude with him around El Camaleon and it paid off. As others showed signs of wilt, Perez forged forward. And when his moment of woe came early in the back nine, he rebounded solidly and continued his aggressive style. If he can bring this attitude each week he is in the mix, he could be in the mix for a lovely late flourish to his career. It took 182 starts between drinks but may not take nearly as long again.
2. When you look at the pure numbers, Gary Woodland giving up another 54-hole lead does not look great. But while he is now 0-5 in stroke play events converting the lead, he did manage to take the 2013 Barracuda Championship home from in front in Modified Stableford. Woodland did not want to make excuses for himself after he went from one in front to ultimately two behind and it was his candor in the aftermath that makes one feel he might just turn things around next time. He’s recognized the issue, he’s learning from it, and it could just be a matter of time. It wasn’t long ago major champions like Jason Day and Jordan Spieth had similar issues and now look at them go.
3. Scott Piercy was rightfully disappointed with his finish in Mexico as a final hole double bogey dropped him back into a tie for fourth. And given he’s very competitive and proud he will probably still be stinging about it in the coming days. But given his jet-setting ways of playing all five opening weeks of the season it was ultra-impressive to see him in the mix Sunday at all! Piercy, who famously was runner up to Dustin Johnson in back-to-back starts last season in the U.S. Open and World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational, has been trending towards a win for some time. Despite flying from California, to Malaysia, to China, to Las Vegas and then to Mexico Piercy has three top-10s already this season. Won’t be long and his fourth win will be in the books.
4. He might not command the big time headlines like some others but Scotland’s Russell Knox continues to prove he is a big time talent. His third top-10 this season in three starts came in Mexico and one wonders if Team Europe is having any “what if” moments around his non-selection in the Ryder Cup. With his two wins last season helping to elevate his profile Knox is now world No.18.
5. It was nice to see six Mexican players in the field at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba with Oscar Fraustro putting together a tidy T13 to lead the bunch. While the event is not a national open for Mexico, one prominent tournament official described it as “like their PLAYERS Championship” so it carries significant weight. With the continuing success of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and Mexican and Latin American players on all tours it won’t be long before the numbers swell. And a strong global game is good for all.
1. Pat Perez won for the second time thanks to his ability to tear apart the front nine at El Camaleon. Having said he felt he should birdie all of the first seven holes, Perez backed up his claim they were the holes to get by playing the front nine in 17-under for the week. With 15 birdies and an eagle he was a machine, making zero blemishes. On the back nine he had to settle for being 4-under, finding eight birdies but adding four bogeys as well.
2. Each of the last four winners of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba have gone on to finish inside the top-50 in the FedExCup standings the year of their Mexico win. Graeme McDowell (2015/48th), Charley Hoffman (2014/10th), Harris English (2013/31st) and John Huh (2012/29th). This is good news for Perez.
3. Gary Woodland is usually known as a bomber but he showed finesse to be first in the field in greens In regulation despite being 21st in driving distance and T23 in driving accuracy. Using an iron off most tees he set himself up for many chances and while he missed some putts of significance on Sunday his work with the putter was much better than usual.
4. Kevin Streelman’s lowest round in his 82 rounds all last season was a 66 in January at the CareerBuilder Challenge. In 14 rounds so far this season he has a 63, a 64 and two 65s. Strangely enough Friday’s are the days killing his chances. While his early season Thursday scoring average is 66 and he is sub 70 on the weekend Streelman averages 73 in Round 2. His 73 this week in Round 2 cost him dearly as he fought all the way to a T4 finish.
5. Charles Howell III notched up his first Top-10 of the season with a T7. He continues to be a model of consistent performance. Since the last of his two wins in 2007 he now has 44 Top 10s and has made $16,793,907.60.
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