LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Pat Perez used to pick up golf balls on the range at Torrey Pines. This week, he's staying at The Lodge and is one of the favorites in the Buick Invitational.
Oh and by the way, he's also a PGA Tour winner. Perez finally broke through at the recent Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in his 198th PGA Tour start. The accomplishment has finally started to sink in.
"The last couple of weeks have been incredible," he said Wednesday. "I've had a million phone calls and text messages and emails. It hasn't gotten old yet, that's for sure."
John Daly was among the first to call and congratulate him.
"He's been like an older brother to me," said Perez. "I think he's one of the greatest guys in the world. He's kind of going through some hard times now. I think he'll come out of it. I hope to God he gets it together and comes back. I know everybody wants him to because he's great for the game."
For Perez, the San Diego area is a happy homecoming.
"I live in Scottsdale, but I've got a lot of ties here," he said. "Torrey is where I grew up, and it's just great coming back."
So are the digs this week.
"I'll be able to afford the room now," he said.
What turns his life takes from here are uncertain, but this much is certain: Perez is now a proven winner and hopes it will be a springboard to more success. He would also like people to realize he's a good guy with a big heart.
"Hopefully people will see that I'm not this crazy, angry guy walking around and they can see that I can play and that I belong out here," he said.
-- Mark Soltau