15th Annual Gerry Dulac Parkway West Rotary Charity Classic
Monday, July 29th
Sewickley Heights Golf Club
Benefits Robinson Twp. Parks & Recreation Department and Parkway West Rotary Charities
Includes: 18-hole Scramble, Gift, Continental Breakfast, Dinner, Auction.
Register online at parkwaywestrotary.com
Special Editions of the Golf Show
The pro-am was shortened because of a vicious Tuesday night storm that dumped nearly 3 inches of rain on the golf course. The opening round was delayed nearly five hours because of another storm. And the second round was suspended when two more fronts blew through Fox Chapel Golf Club.
Now comes the cleanup and restoration of the course.
But not from the weather.
From Kenny Perry.
He set two scoring records on the weekend when he won the 30th Constellation Senior Players Championship by two shots over Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf -- one for 36 holes, one for 54 holes.
He made 19 birdies and two eagles in his final three rounds and did not have a bogey in the final 37 holes. He missed only three greens on the weekend and only one fairway Sunday, and his winning score of 19-under 261 was five shots better than the winning total a year ago.
The biggest damage to the course was not inflicted by the weather. Rather, it was the bruise Perry inflicted on the course's pride, an assault nobody saw coming at Fox Chapel.
And Perry, who won his first major championship of any kind, was all but apologetic for his performance.
"The weather really dictated the course this week," Perry said. "There's no way to shoot 19 under on this golf course under firm and fast conditions, that's not going to happen."
Perry shot that and more in the final three rounds.
After opening the tournament with 71, Perry put together back-to-back scores of 63 in the second and third rounds and closed out his victory with a final-round 64. That's 20 under in just three rounds -- a 54-hole scoring record for the tournament.
His 36-hole total of 63-63 -- 126 also was a tournament record, breaking the mark of 128 set by Jack Nicklaus 23 years ago.
"The rough was very penal this week," Perry said. "If we would have had this rough last year, the scores would have been a lot higher. Last year you could hit it in the rough. You could actually advance it on to the green, no problem. This year you were struggling, you were chipping out.
"You had to really pay attention to what you were doing if you missed the fairways. But being soft conditions, a ball that looked like it was going to miss the fairway stayed in the fairway, so it didn't really run off into the rough. All the fairways played wider this week than normal.
"So the golf course being soft made it play easier than it should normally play. That's why you saw the good scores."
In addition, because of the rain that delayed the opening round and the subsequent storms that followed each day, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball in the fairway every day. That's another huge advantage for players.
"I was able to get my hands on it, clean it, give me a good lie," Perry said. "And I was able to control the golf ball going into the greens."
To Perry's credit, he controlled his shots into the soft greens better than his pursuers -- Couples and Waldorf -- by taking an extra club and swinging easier, thereby imparting less spin on the ball.
That's what Perry did on the 146-yard 11th hole when he made birdie -- hitting a 9-iron instead of a pitching wedge after he saw his playing partners back their balls on the green.
"Duffy had a couple that just spun right off the green into some bad shot spots," Perry said. "I was hitting golf shots I wasn't really comfortable with, to tell you the truth -- 110-yard pitching wedges, normally that's my stock 56-degree sand wedge. So I was just it choking [down] and just three-quarter swinging and it was turning out perfect. They were coming in kind of dead-handed and stuff."
Dead-handed, perhaps. But enough to bruise the course's pride.
There wasn't much mystery to what Kenny Perry did for the final three rounds of the Constellation Senior Players Championship. Make birdies. Toss in a couple of eagles. Stay away from bogeys.
And, of course, win his first major championship of any kind after some painful near-misses.
If anyone thought the rain and mud wreaked havoc on the Fox Chapel Golf Club, they missed what Perry did to the softened Seth Raynor-designed layout. Back-to-back rounds of 63, a final-round 64 and no bogeys in his final 37 holes.
"I knew it was going to take a great score to win again [Sunday]," Perry said. "I knew it was going to be low."
In a tournament that was delayed and pounded by several nasty storms all week, the biggest front to blow through on the weekend was Perry, 53, who stormed past Fred Couples with birdies on two of the final three holes to finish at 19-under 261 and post a two-shot victory.
The victory helped ease the disappointment of Perry's two playoff losses in major championships on the PGA Tour -- the 1996 PGA Championship and the 2009 Masters.
It also got rid of some of the bad taste from a second-place finish at the Senior PGA Championship recently, where Perry blew a three-shot lead with six holes remaining.
"I thought I was snake-bit," Perry said. "I got close so many times where I didn't make it happen and I messed up in the stretch. [Sunday] I went the other direction. I hit great shots. It wasn't like I was trying to hold on. I was trying to make birdies, not pars."
Perry, a 14-time winner on the PGA Tour, set a 54-hole tournament scoring record of 20-under 190 -- a blitzkrieg that included 19 birdies and two eagles in the final three rounds.
The victory was Perry's third since joining the Champions Tour and was worth $405,000. It also gains him a spot in The Players Championship next year on the PGA Tour.
Couples, who shot a final-round 68, and Duffy Waldorf, who closed with a 64, finished at 17-under 263. The next-closest pursuer was Michael Allen (65), who was five shots back at 12-under 268.
"I had a great chance to win the Senior PGA and I blew that one coming in," Perry said. "I just couldn't seem to get over the hump of something when 'major' was attached to it.
"My word [Sunday] was patience and I just said, you know what, we're going to go out and just focus on the shot at hand. I'm not going to look ahead. I'm not going to look behind. I'm just going to play golf and let the chips fall where they may. And I hit it beautifully."
Perry's grandest moment came at No. 16, the 422-yard par 4, where he almost holed a pitching wedge from 125 yards, his ball stopping an inch from the cup for birdie. That gave him a two-shot lead with two holes remaining.
He followed that by hitting a 6-iron to 2 feet for another birdie at the 187-yard 17th -- the same hole where he had a hole in -one in the third round a year ago, using the same club and having the same yardage.
"That's a pretty good hole for me," Perry said, smiling.
The back-to-back birdies effectively put an end to the three-man race with Couples and Waldorf.
"I was trying to make birdies," Perry said. "I guess that was a different mindset from before where instead of trying to make pars, I was trying to make birdies. And this golf course allowed us to do it. It just set up for a classic shootout."
Couples hit all 14 fairways and missed only one green, but was done in by a balky putter.
He was tied with Perry after a 7-foot birdie at the par-4 14th. But the end came on the next hole when he three-putted from 8 feet, missing a 3-footer to save par. Couples did much the same earlier in the round when he drove the green at the 299-yard seventh and then three-putted for par, missing a 2 1/2-foot birdie.
"The putt looked so easy and I just hammered it and kind of flinched at it coming back down the hill," Couples said about the mishap at 15.
Perry said the final round would be guns-ablaze, and it was, but it was Waldorf who came out smoking.
He attacked the pins and birdied the first four holes, none more confidently than when he hit it to 18 inches at the par-3 third and 12 inches at the 485-yard fourth. That led to a front-nine 29 that gave him a one-shot lead on Couples and Perry at the turn.
But Waldorf's chances disappeared at the 344-yard 12th, when he bogeyed after his wedge approach landed in the gnarly rough behind the green. When he spun a wedge off the front part of the green at the 383-yard 15th for another bogey, he was all but tossed from the three-man race.
"I felt like I was sprinting in the mile and leading the first couple laps and got to a spot with that 29," Waldorf said. "But I wasn't able to play well on the back."
That ol' softie, Craig Stadler, who describes himself as once being "a maniac out there," spent Monday morning returning 196 text messages and 87 emails from people congratulating him on his first Champions Tour victory in eight years.
He was coming off a one-shot victory in the Encompass Championship in suburban Chicago and he wasn't sure what he appreciated more -- the response from his friends and peers or the satisfaction that his game, which he had all but left for dead, suddenly had been resuscitated.
"It was do or die," Stadler said. "Fix it or I was going to quit. I haven't had any interest in playing golf for two-and-a-half years. I was playing so bad it just wears you down. Just pure and simple, I was horrible."
At age 60 and without a win since the 2004 SAS Championship, the man nicknamed "The Walrus" went to see teacher Billy Harmon about five weeks ago. Stadler said Harmon changed everything about his game -- his grip, stance, ball position, especially his shoulder alignment -- something he said he never had to do or even think about for 40 years.
Stadler said he was getting too open with his shoulders, causing him to lose distance off the tee and hit a lot of what he called "those ugly, horrible fades" with his irons.
"I never had to think about my golf game," Stadler said. "I'd hit it, find it and hit it again. That's been my only thought process. I played the same way for 45 years. Now it's all different."
But as Stadler discovered Sunday, it's a good different.
Now, instead of hating to come to the golf course, he comes to Fox Chapel Golf Club for the 30th Constellation Senior Players Championship that begins Thursday with a little skip in that familiar slope-shouldered step.
"I haven't looked forward to a week of golf in a long time," Stadler said Tuesday after hitting balls on the practice range. "It's fun. I'm actually excited about this week. I really feel like I wanted to come out and hit balls today. That's a plus."
Stadler's victory, though, did not come without some anxious moments. After a quick start in which he birdied four of the first six holes to take a five-shot lead in the final round, he had to make a sneaky left-to-right 12-footer to save par on the final hole to beat Fred Couples by one shot.
When he made that bending putt, Stadler ended the longest victory drought in Champions Tour history -- eight years, almost nine months -- and was overcome with emotion. Not what people have come to expect from a man who stalked, stormed and often club-pounded his way for years on the PGA Tour.
"It was awesome," Stadler said. "I played really, really, really good golf for about 30 holes. I struggled a little bit coming in. But I made a putt when I had to."
But that is Stadler. For all his surly appearances on the golf course -- "My temper and all," he said -- he always has been one of the friendliest, most well-liked players on the tour. He was reminded of that when among all his congratulatory messages, he had "30 to 40" from his fellow Champions Tour players.
"That's really cool; that was really nice," Stadler said. "That was very touching to get that."
So, too, was having his second wife, Jan, see him win a tournament for the first time. They have been married three years.
"It was a long way down there, but there's a little flicker in that tunnel somewhere," Stadler said.