What they said: Kenny Perry

December 04, 2009
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Chevron World Challenge transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: Kenny Perry, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a very successful Round 2, bogey-free 7-under 65. Just a few comments on the round. Obviously another great year in 2009 with two wins. A number of other Top 10s. Just as you're kind of heading into the off season, just kind of assess the state of your game and how you're feeling after the 65 today.

KENNY PERRY: Well, I can say in all my years this is the first time I've been in this room in this tournament. I usually don't play well out here for some reason.

I've taken all of November off. I haven't really touched a club, and I was in Carlsbad the first two days, Monday and Tuesday of this week to get my new R9 irons, my new V-grooves, so I'm playing with new equipment this week and really didn't have any expectations. So quite pleased to see my irons flying the distance they're flying, and I putted beautifully the last two days.

But this year was a magical year. I mean it was a great year, with two wins. Almost won the Masters. Just told me I could still be competitive. I can still compete in the majors. That's kind of my last goal to somehow get one major before I get out of here.

So pretty excited. I played flawlessly today. I don't think I've missed a fairway in two days, and I've had a lot of opportunities, and my speed is great with the putter. So you know, it's kind of a continuation of the year. That's kind of the way I've played all year. I've driven the ball beautifully all year, and my putter's really kind of woke up and that's kind of what happened today.

DOUG MILNE: You mentioned some of the new equipment you've thrown into the bag, but we heard you at the tee stand a few minutes ago talking about the new specs. Obviously your comments, those have obviously made a big difference. Was it in putting or --

KENNY PERRY: Well, you know what, like I said, I've had two Lasik surgeries. When you have Lasik surgery, you have to wear a special Lasik contact lens, which I have really bad astigmatism, which the center of my lenses were firm and the outside is soft, and you know, it scratched my cornea. I had to withdraw from the PGA a couple of years ago because one of them scratched the cornea.

They were just a pain. I got tired of wearing them, and this was just a new avenue for me, and I really enjoy the people with Transitions. I like their doctors. I kind of spent some time with them in the off season. Went down to Dr. Lambert, down in I think he's in West Palm, spent some days with him, and we really worked on my vision. And these were the best we could come up with, and to me I see just as good out of these as I do with my contacts.

In the past I never could see as well out of glasses as I could out of the contacts. But I've actually got lenses now that when I look down, my feet don't look real small. I don't see any depth perception. There's no -- whatever that is. Looking through that -- I had bifocals in them and all this. These are just straight lenses and everything just looks proportional. I don't feel like I'm on -- before I almost felt like I was on a downhill slope all the time.

So it was just something to try. I'm not the youngest kid anymore. And my vision's not that good, so to me, your vision's one of the most important things out there, so you've gotta somehow figure out something that you can -- and you know, I actually put them in play this week just to test and see if I can -- I'll put them in play next week at the Shark Shootout, see if I'll be ready for the first tournament of the year, and quite pleased. I'm ecstatic. My vision is going to be great. I've got other lenses that are amber, some are dark. So I'll have a lot of options to try.

DOUG MILNE: OK. With that we'll open it up for a few questions.

Q. As this decade is about to end, I'm just curious what you think have been the biggest changes over the past 10 years in the game since you've been here for all of it. Is there anything that stands out??

KENNY PERRY: Well, we kind of -- you know, the 2000s have been great for me. I've won 11 times. So you know, I think the golf courses have gotten a little longer. I think equipment has changed a little bit since early 2000. Now we're going to the V-grooves next year, so kind of the evolution of the game.

I actually didn't think a lot changed in 2000 from the distance of the ball and the Pro V X came out in 2003 I think was the first year I played the professional, early 2000.

What I've seen with the golf ball you had to add more loft to your driver because it launches higher and spins less, where I used to hit a seven-degree driver with that Professional because it spun a lot more. But my irons have gone all about the same distances as they have. I haven't seen really any improvement in that. So I don't know. I haven't seen a lot really of changes in 2000.

Q. On 17, what did you hit there and how far was that putt??

KENNY PERRY: That was an 8-iron from 164, probably 15 feet.

Q. Probably have explained this a hundred times before, but why is it the last four or five years, especially with this putter, that you got I guess from a pro-am??

KENNY PERRY: No. He's a member at my club, Vero Beach, Paul Hargarten.

Q. How does that all figure together??

KENNY PERRY: I owe that guy dinner or something. How can you explain that? A guy comes up and hands you a putter, says it's going to help you. One of the first things I did, I grabbed it and threw it in the trunk of my car when he wasn't looking. And then I was putting bad and I grabbed it and next thing you know I'm winning golf tournaments, and I've won five times with that putter, great Ryder Cup with it.

You know, I can't explain that. I wish I could. But I think a lot of it's due to maturity. My kids are grown and gone now. My oldest is married, my son's caddying for me, my youngest is a senior at SMU in Dallas, so they're all grown up and gone, doing their own thing. So it's just Sandy and I, my wife. So we're just enjoying, you know, traveling. I've actually had more time to focus in on my golf when I'm at home.

I've actually spent more time practicing and not chasing the kids around and kind of rededicated myself in the 2000s and it's paid off.

Q. (First portion of question inaudible)... you were in your 40s, it looked to me. Do you think that helped your body now that you're age 49?

KENNY PERRY: I think -- that's kind of what I tell the young kids coming out, don't play so many in a row. Don't wear yourself out. It's always good to be fresh mentally.

So yeah, I mean I try to keep a limited schedule. I physically can't do it. I got a right elbow that bothers me. My knee, I had surgery on bothers me. I got a lot of aches and pains, and I just physically cannot practice like I used to, so you know what, I just take it a little bit slower, and when I'm on, hopefully it'll hang in there.

Q. That you actually didn't have to practice as much when you got older??

KENNY PERRY: Well, I think my practice, you know, is -- I have a little more focus in my practice now when I do practice. I kind of work on things that I need to work on where in the past I was just blasting away just to hit balls, you know. So I think there's a little more purpose in my practices.

Q. You mentioned Justin a minute ago. Have you decided is he going to stay with you on next year, too, or is he sick of you already??

KENNY PERRY: He's probably sick of me, I don't know, because he don't like being -- he's kind of got my personality -- he likes to say what he feels, and but you know what, I hope he wants to. I really do. I want him there, and it's been a treat for me to be able to spend the end of this year with him, knowing he's 24 years old, and as a dad that I didn't see him hardly grow up any, me traveling all the time out here on TOUR, so Sandy raised him. She did a great job with him, and I'd be home -- I'd play 30-plus weeks a year, so the 20-something weeks I was with him, you know, so it's been really special for me just to spend time with him, talk about his future, try to get him ready for his future, what's he going to do. It's really been pretty neat for me.

Q. Will you show up at Kapalua next year with the same kind of outlook that you had this year??

KENNY PERRY: Well, you know, last year I had my -- I was dead set on, you know, winning majors, and you know, I don't know if I'm going to look at it next year like that. I don't know if I'm going to chase it as hard as I've chased it the last 24 years.

That's a good question, and I need to -- I found out I need to set goals and when I set the goal to make the Ryder Cup team, I made the Ryder Cup team.

So do I have enough fire and passion in me still to compete? I think I do. I mean I think I'm still good enough to compete with them, but do I want to is the question. I've pretty much accomplished everything I could accomplish out here. It's been a great year. It's been a great run. And I'm going to play the first one and then you won't see me again till the Match Play.

I'm going to shorten my schedule. I'm not going to play as much, and you know, I'll probably play some Champions Tour events come August when I turn 50. So you know, Sandy and I, we're just going to travel and go, and I don't know, we'll see.

I mean, you know, I'm the type of person, I'm so competitive, if I get to playing bad, you'll see me play a lot of weeks, but if I'm playing pretty good, I'll probably just kind of stay back and just play a few here and there and pick and choose the better events that I think is better for me and my game.

Q. So you'll just do Kapalua and then --

KENNY PERRY: Just do Kapalua. I've played there 20 times. I've been finishing like 35th.

Q. You've never seen that press room either??

KENNY PERRY: Never. I've played -- that little golf course beats the crap out of me.

Q. I think this is kind of a trite question, but how old do you feel??

KENNY PERRY: You know, I don't feel -- you know, I'm still hitting it far enough. I don't feel -- only with -- I've got an elbow that I don't know what's wrong with it, but it just feels like it needs oiling or something. It needs something to make it bend. It gets real tired, a lot of tendonitis. That one muscle that runs all the way down my forearm is really tight, and I had my doc work on it for two weeks before I came out here and it didn't help any.

So I don't know. I don't know if this is going to be something that's going to plague me in the future. I don't know, but I've been eating a lot of Advil right now. I know that stuff's not very good for you.

Q. (Indiscernible).


Q. Was there any explanation when he handed it to you??

KENNY PERRY: He just really believed in his heart, he said, this putter's really going to help you. It had a grip on it that looked like it had been on there for 20 years. It was dry-rotted. It was awful. It looked like something he drug right out of his closet, and he was just trying to help me. I don't know.

It was hilarious. So I put a new grip on it, and next thing you know I'm making everything I hit with it. So I can't explain it.

Q. How much did you practice with it before you took it out??

KENNY PERRY: I put it in play two years ago at the Shark Shootout.

Q. So you (inaudible).

KENNY PERRY: I had an off season with it before I put it in play last year.

Q. I'm curious, when you and your son are out on the golf course and around like today, do you talk much about -- is it just about the golf or is it about everything else that kind of keeps your mind off golf??

KENNY PERRY: No. It's just about golf. I won't let him go other places. I'm trying to teach him, this is a job for him. I tell him, if you're going to do this, you're going to do it right, and it's important to me that he does all the yardages, and I'm doing them, too. I'm double checking him, and I'm making him prep all the greens and see what -- how he's reading the greens and how he prepares the greens before we play. And I'm making him get out there and walk the golf course like you see all these great caddies do, and I don't know if it's something he's going to want to pursue in the future. I don't know.

So far he's done a great job with it. You know, it kind of shocked me, as being my son, I didn't know -- I thought he might be a little bit of a slacker a little bit, kind of take it easy and just kind of hang on, but no, he's been totally dedicated.

He's been getting up early. He's the kind of kid that will sleep till noon if you'll let him. He won't come out of bed. He's been getting up at 4 and 5 and getting up doing his job, and I've been very proud of him for that. I've seen a different side of him that I didn't think I'd ever see.

Q. So is his work this week partially to credit as to why you're in here for the first time??

KENNY PERRY: Well, it has to be, because I've never been here before.

Q. The glasses.

KENNY PERRY: That, too.

Q. You started out by talking about this being a magical year for you. But you did have some personal tragedy, obviously, and there was a lot of that on TOUR this year actually. I'm just curious your take on that and if there was any introspection on your part or did it give you any perspective. Has it made it easier or harder for you to prosper??

KENNY PERRY: It's been horrible, to tell you the truth, for me personally on a family side, to lose your mom, to lose somebody you look up to and care so much about, to see her for 15 months deal with this cancer was very difficult. And now my wife's mom, we don't know how much longer we're going to keep her. She's fighting a problem right now also. We almost lost her last week, and so -- and she's already lost her dad to lung cancer. And then my dad just turned 86 yesterday.

So you know, we're just getting old. We're just facing life, and everybody goes through it. We're all going to -- you know, I've never been to the funeral home so many times. You know, when you're growing up, you never -- I always hated -- I never wanted to go to that place, and now all of a sudden seems like I'm always there, and all my friends. That's been tough, but it's something I've really had to deal with and know that there's a better place for my mom. So you know, I know she's not hurting and she's not in pain anymore. That to me was hard to watch her suffer the way she did, and so that was difficult.

But yeah, I know Tom Lehman lost his dad. There's so many people that you can see the TOUR has lost a wife or, you know, it's just been awful, the things that's happened.

Q. You mentioned your dad and Tom. Back at John Deere last year you talked about how much it really did so much good for him mentally to watch you. Was he watching today??

KENNY PERRY: Oh, yeah. He called me, he said, "you're out there, you might as well go win," you know. And he always says, "you might as well bring home some money." So definitely.

You know, I almost didn't get him through the winter. He'd lost almost 40 pounds, and he was frail, and he was losing it. And it was so funny, I had him at the hospital, and they put two stints, they go through your groin and they put four stints in his heart, and my dad's a free bleeder. If he gets a cut, he can't stop it.

And I'm in the room, and all of a sudden the doctor said something, they broke that wound lose in his groin. All of a sudden the lights started going off, they shoved me out the door and like eight doctors rushed into the room. They couldn't stop this bleeding. And finally when they got him calm, got him settled and got him stopped and all, I went in there and I patted Daddy, he looked at me, and he says, "I thought I was a goner." (Laughs).

You know, here's a guy that was in World War II. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, he told me, and he was in a foxhole for 42 days, the Germans shelled his spot. He said he never left it, subfreezing weather. He's a tough guy. He handled Mom's death beautifully. He's just been unbelievable. He's just a tough, courageous man. And he's taught me a lot, and it's been fun hanging out with him, listening to his teachings and his sayings.

We've got a German Luger and swords and all this stuff he's got. I like that movie, the "Band of Brothers," I've got that series. I think that kind of depicts a little bit about World War II and all. Those men were just incredible people.

Q. You talked a little bit about Kapalua.

KENNY PERRY: Well, we didn't know. We couldn't get him to eat. He had no hunger, no anything. We couldn't get him to do anything. All he did was sleep. He slept for 18 hours a day, just couldn't hardly get him out of bed.

And just I don't know what turned him around, but something finally turned him around, and we finally nursed him back, and you know, he got back and he's doing great. He's coming out to the golf course. He's still driving himself when he gets out to the course.

And I bought him a little red golf cart, so he loves to follow everybody around. He's my ambassador. He honks the horn when they make birdies. He's a trip, now. He's got so many neat sayings. He's just a neat guy.

Q. Give us an example.

KENNY PERRY: Oh, man. There's so many. Shoot. You know, stump me. Just you know, about life. Not like a Yogi-ism or anything like that. Just his sayings of how you approach life is what has meant so much to me.

Q. Kenny, the tough personal year you've had, despite that the great golf you've played inside the ropes, has that almost given you an unexpectedly welcome sanctuary to deal with those issues??

KENNY PERRY: It has. It's back to work. It kind of puts me in my element, gives me five hours to just deal with golf and kind of prepare for that and not deal with things at home. So you're definitely right there.

DOUG MILNE: OK. Well, Kenny, we appreciate your time, as always. Best of luck on the weekend.