Dan Jenkins doesn't care Kenny Perry's not playing in the U.S. Open. He's still mad Adam Scott is paired with Tiger and Phil instead of Ben Hogan. But, for some reason, everyone else seems to find Perry's distaste for Torrey Pines unacceptable. For his part, Perry doesn't much care. As he's said over and over, his only goal this year was the Ryder Cup team and he's done everything he could to get on it. For the first time in the soon-to-be 48-year-old's career, he actually wrote a goal down on a piece of paper and stuck it in his wallet. Captain Paul Azinger wanted to base the Ryder Cup points on money. Fine. Perry's won a boatload. Captain Azinger wanted winners, not just high finishers who bank balls off trees. Fine. He won Memorial.
"If the Ryder Cup had been anywhere else," Perry says of Valhalla GC, in his home state of Kentucky, where he lost the '96 PGA Championship in a playoff to Mark Brooks, "I might not have had that burning fire."
While it's no doubt true the USGA's 36-hole qualifier factored into Perry's decision, the golf course played a much greater roll. Perry has only played events at Torrey Pines three times in his career for a reason. "If it had been a different venue I would have definitely set my schedule up differently," he says. "But, when I saw it at Torrey Pines I just said, that's not me." And Perry is not alone in his ambivalence for the course on the cliffs. Jim Furyk, the '03 U.S. Open champion, is another who will tell you he doesn't much care for it.
A more pressing decision for Perry is whether or not he plays in the British Open. "See, I was in nothing this year," says Perry. "So I went on and committed to John Deere and Milwaukee because those are two of my favorite places. I've always supported Milwaukee. I won there. That place opened up a lot of doors for me. Now, I still have an opportunity to go to the British and I may change my mind. I may pull out of Milwaukee and go on over. That's a tough pull. I'm torn right there. I've done OK in the British Open. Had a chance to win at Royal St. George's. I played with Jack during his last British Open. I got to play a practice round with him and Tom Watson and Mike Weir. A tremendous day for me, the chance of a lifetime. I always tell everybody I feel like I'm on the moon because the golf is so different. I'm just torn. Birkdale was my first British Open, the year Ian Baker-Finch won. If these few weeks go well and I know for sure I'm on that Ryder Cup team, yeah, I'll probably go."
If not, he'll stay in the U.S. and keep piling up points because he knows he can.