OMAHA, Neb. —
“When he gets going, he's really tough to catch,” said Pavin, who made five consecutive birdies from No. 8. “He's powerful, hits it a long way and makes a lot of putts when he gets it going. [When] he shoots scores like he's shooting now, it's pretty tough to keep up with him.”
During his PGA Tour career, Perry came close to winning majors twice, losing heartbreaking playoffs at the PGA Championship (1996 to Mark Brooks) and the Masters (2009 to Angel Cabrera). He also tied for third at the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. Perry, in fact, has been trying to win USGA championships since his first U.S. Open appearance 25 years ago at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
But not until he turned 40 did Perry begin to show his potential. Eleven of his 14 PGA Tour victories came after age 40 and now he owns four wins on the 50-and-over circuit, including the two majors. The Senior Open might have been his third senior major of 2013 had he not blown a late lead at the Senior PGA Championship earlier this year at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
“It's probably my greatest win,” said Perry of his Senior Open triumph. “When you win your National [Senior] Open, I mean, that's what we all strive for. I really wanted to win the Masters and the PGA and a U.S. Open on [the PGA] Tour, but I couldn't make it happen. Now to finally have a national title to my name … I'm very proud of that trophy. I think it's probably the greatest trophy I've won.”
Funk knows about clutching the Francis Ouimet Trophy. He won it in 2009 at Crooked Stick and now has finished second three times. The 57-year-old from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was within striking distance on the first nine, but never got closer after Perry went on his birdie barrage midway through the round.
Ditto for Mediate, the 2008 U.S. Open runner-up who was competing in his first Senior Open. An eagle at the par-5 sixth moved him to within two strokes of the lead, but like Funk, he couldn’t keep up the fast pace being set by Perry.
“Kenny just played phenomenal,” said Funk. “I played with him the first two days [of the Senior Players Championship] at Fox Chapel, and through 30 holes, he wasn't doing anything. All of a sudden, he just went crazy.”
But don’t look for Perry to go for three consecutive majors in two weeks at the Senior British Open at Royal Birkdale in England. Having played eight of the last nine weeks on either the PGA Tour or Champions Tour, he is planning to take a break from competitive golf. He wants to spend some time with his family and, of course, hit Beech Bend, the drag-racing track 20 miles from his home, with the new vehicle that he expects to pick up on Friday.
It’s a limited-edition Camaro that is not street-legal.
“I’m tired,” he said. “I am going home to celebrate.”
And take a victory lap.
Oak Tree National’s Gil Morgan placed 42nd in the money rankings, while Edmond’s Willie Wood and Bob Tway failed to make the earnings list.