CRAWFORD | Perry set to savor every step of Sunday's final PGA r - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Perry set to savor every step of Sunday's final PGA round

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kenny Perry wound up on his tee shot on the par 4 No. 4 hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship, struck the ball, took a step back and watched the ball settle six feet from the hole for an easy eagle putt.

What was going through his mind?

"I was thinking I needed that one 28 years ago in 1996 (when he lost the PGA Championship in a playoff to Mark Brooks)," Perry said. "That's the drive that I needed. That's the exact thought that hit my head."

You can't go back in time. But Perry has done everything but this week at Valhalla, making the cut in his final major, enjoying the support of his home-state fans, shooting a 3-under par 68 in the third round and now playing on Sunday on his 54th birthday.

Perry and his family and friends will celebrate Saturday night. They'll party, unconcerned about what happens on Saturday. Perry has already won, truth be told.

"All I tried to do this week was to play well enough to get to the weekend," Perry said after making the cut on Friday. "I'm having to hit such long shots. The younger guys are playing a different course from what I'm playing. I have to execute perfectly just to survive. That's a big golf course, so big I can't get over it. I'm ecstatic."

On a day when the PGA set the pins up for attack mode, players obliged. The average score was more than one stroke under par. Perry is 10 shots out of the lead, but he isn't worried about it. He came to this major wanting to contend one more time, to stay in contention until his birthday on Sunday. He's done that.

Now he gets to enjoy a trip around Valhalla that he'll never forget. He won't forget the disappointment of '96, of course. Nor will he ever forget the Ryder Cup victory in 2008, popping the champagne from the clubhouse balcony, his father greeting him with a hug.

He's talked about "scrapbook" moments lately in his career. Sunday at No. 18, and all around the course, really, surely will be one. And the entire nation will get to watch.

"At my age, you don't look forward to birthdays," Perry said. "Hopefully it's a nice day, go out and have a good round of golf."

Already feeling the love from fans, large galleries wherever he went on the course, Perry answered emotionally when asked what his third round was like.

"I felt like Tiger Woods, a rock star," Perry said. "I really did. In my whole career, I never felt like that, where everybody on every whole (was yelling) 'I'm from Bowling Green or Glasgow or Hopkinsville' . . . So many people following me. Just all over. Go Big Blue! Go WKU! Go Tops! It's been pretty incredible, to tell you the truth."

And tomorrow figures to be more incredible still. You can't go back in time. But you can savor it. You can bet Kenny Perry will savor every step on Sunday.

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