SOUTHPORT, England -- News that Kenny Perry won another golf tournament in the United States has only compounded the befuddlement factor at Royal Birkdale, where he will not participate in the British Open starting Thursday. How could the hottest player skip the sport's most venerable major because he would rather be in Milwaukee?
"I find it rather amazing he is not here," said Justin Rose, the young Brit. "He said his goal is the Ryder Cup, but that is virtually signed, sealed and delivered. This would be a trip that wouldn't hurt his Ryder Cup chances, would it? It is strange he is not playing and is not testing himself at the highest level. I couldn't personally imagine myself opting out of a major. It is what I want to judge myself on at the end of my career."
Even fellow American Jim Furyk gently jabbed by quipping, "to the best of my knowledge, you can't win if you don't play," but he promptly defended Perry by adding, "the beauty of this game is we get to make our own schedule, and if it works for him, then all power to him."
Perry's third victory in five starts, Sunday at the John Deere Classic, did not seem to impress my colleagues in the media working in and around the United Kingdom. Most of them think Americans are isolationists who find traveling an inconvenience to be avoided at every opportunity. But, for goodness sakes, the Deere folks lined up a chartered flight that landed at Manchester Airport Monday morning. All Perry would have had to do was book a seat.
I kind of like the idea that Perry, a big ol' country boy who is set in his ways, would defy convention and ignore everybody's instructions about what he should do with his life. After all, if you don't listen to us experts in the media, to whom will you listen? Unfortunately, many of those British journalists will be in Louisville come September, and they can't wait to get a piece of Perry. By the time they're done interrogating and scolding him, he might wish he hadn't made the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
-- Bob Verdi