CRAWFORD | Perry wins Senior 3M Championship, gains momentum for - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Perry wins Senior 3M Championship, gains momentum for PGA

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Associated Press photo. Associated Press photo.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kenny Perry hasn’t been playing for this moment for a lifetime, but he’s doing his best to make it a moment no one will ever forget.

The Kentucky native has been honing his game for what he says likely will be his last major tournament in this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. He couldn’t ask for a better way to go out.

Valhalla is the site of his greatest triumph — with the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2008 — and his most bitter, a playoff loss to Mark Brooks in the 1996 PGA Championship, when he watched the tying shot on No. 18 from a TV tower. While he lost The Masters in 2009 after leading by two strokes with two holes to play, Perry says the 1996 loss stings more, because it was in his home state.

He comes back home with a head of steam, after winning the 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., on the Champions Tour Sunday, finishing the tournament 23 under par and holing a 15-foot birdie putt to win in regulation after a late rally by Bernhard Langer.

Perry has pointed his whole season toward performing well this week at Valhalla, but knows that pulling out a win would be an upset. It also would be a career-crowing achievement, coming in the same week as his 54th birthday.

“It’d be like winning the lottery,” Perry said. “Just getting around courses is a struggle, but I have experience at Valhalla. You never know. You just go out and try to make something special happen.”

Perry is playing well. He’s as sharp right now as he could ask to be.

"This was a warmup week for me to work on my short game," Perry said after winning in Minnesota. "From 100 yards and in this week I was better than I ever can remember in my career. I was hitting it around the pin and I was converting. I was making putts."

He also held off the hottest player on the Senior Tour, Langer, who won last week’s Senior British Open by a record 13 strokes.

He was four strokes behind Perry heading into the back nine but made four birdies to tie the score heading into the final hole, where he landed in the tall grass and had to settle for par.

"My goal today was to shoot 8 under thinking 21 under should have a chance to win. I shot 9 under, outdid myself, and still didn't win," he said. "What Kenny did this week is pretty exceptional."

Exceptional enough to win a PGA Championship? Perry wouldn’t speculate on that. But he does come in with momentum.

“I wish I could take some of these birdies with me,” Perry told NBC Golf after winning. “I hope I haven’t used them all up. It’s going to be a magical week. I can’t thank Ted Bishop and PGA of America enough for giving me that shot. I’ll need 60 to 100 tickets. I’ll have lots of friends and family. I’m paired with Henrik Stinson the first two days, and he’s the one I kind of nipped a little bit at the Ryder Cup. So he’s probably going to be mad at me and he’ll probably beat on me a little bit, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great challenge for me. I know I’ve got (Rory) McIlroy and Bubba Watson and the three studs playing behind me, so it’s going to be huge galleries. What a way to go out.”

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Eric on Twitter or Facebook for continuous coverage of the PGA Championship and other sports news.

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