SAN ANTONIO – Pat Perez warmed up for Thursday’s first round of the Valero Texas Open in four layers of clothing. He was sweating by the end of the round. The first round was delayed 2 ½ hours by thick fog, but it was warm and sunny by the afternoon.
Perez birdied his final three holes to become the clear leader after the morning wave. He shot 4-under 68 with just one bogey. It's the continuation of a strong season for the 38-year-old.
“I’m still working on trying to get my clubface and club and swing path matched up so I don’t really think about score or what’s going on,” Perez said. “It’s different. I used to worry about scoring and all this other stuff."
Perez was in Thursday’s first group off of the first tee. He played alongside Will Mackenzie, who is one shot back. “Me and Willie Mac, we had a fun group out there,” Perez said.
Perez is working with instructor Joe Mayo, and has credited their work for his good play of late. Perez is No. 32 in the FedExCup after posting three top-10s, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open, in 12 starts this season. He’s missed just one cut.
“I’ve got a pretty good understanding of what my swing is doing and what the ball is doing,” Perez said. “I feel as confident as I ever have with my ball striking and where the ball is going to go and if I can make a couple putts, I feel like I can shoot a pretty good score.”
Perez, like most of the players in the Valero Texas Open field, needs a victory to qualify for the upcoming Masters. "You can't worry about all that stuff," he said. He didn't have much to worry about at all on Thursday.