Verdi: Friday's Postcard from the Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Whatever happened to Craig Perks? Well, the 2002 winner of the Players Championship is at this year's tournament. He just didn't bring his clubs, which is understandable since he announced his retirement after the 2007 season.

"I don't know that I needed to 'announce' it," said Perks. "I just wanted to walk away quietly, which is what I did."

At 41, Perks is beginning a career as a teacher. Also, he's doing some broadcasting this week on the world TV feed, and with "Live @ the 17." He's scheduled to drop in on the Golf Channel, too.

Last but not least, Perks attended the Champions Dinner. "I was honored and proud to be there, just as I was honored and proud to win this tournament," said Perks.  "I might have been a one-hit wonder, but nobody can take that away from me."

Alas, his 2002 triumph that included chip-ins on Nos. 16 and 18, Perks never won again on the PGA Tour. At the end of that season, he studied statistics and saw his name near the bottom in several categories.

"So, I made a complete overhaul of my swing," Perks said. "It didn't work.  Then I tried to go back to my old way, and wound up caught in between. I made one cut the last two years and was just awful. I felt like I was an embarrassment to the game, and maybe even a distraction to playing partners. I played a lot of practice rounds by myself, and hit a lot of balls at the corner of the range."

Perks is creating a performance institute in Broussard, La., near Lafayette, where he settled after completing college at Southwest Louisiana. That's a long way from his home in New Zealand, but he met wife Maureen while in school, and their two children are also quite content in Cajun Country.

Asked if he wants to be the next Butch Harmon--a world-class teacher who doubles as a TV analyst--Perks said that given the support he received from his family through tough times, "I'd rather be a world-class husband and father."

--Bob Verdi