Perez closes out first tour win in style|
La Quinta, CA (Sports Network) - Pat Perez sure knew how to polish off his
first PGA Tour win.
Perez knocked his second shot to two feet to set up a closing eagle en route
to victory at the 50th Bob Hope Classic.
"It's just awesome," said Perez.
Perez shot a three-under 69 on Sunday and won the tournament at 33-under 327.
He won by three over John Merrick, but the tournament was tight down the
Merrick and Perez were tied and Merrick received an incredibly fortunate
bounce off the 16th tee. His drive was headed right of a canal, but hit the
facade and bounced into the fairway. Merrick's second stopped eight feet from
the hole, but Merrick missed.
The 17th hole proved critical. Merrick missed the green right at the par-three
hole and chipped up to nine feet. He missed the par putt to fall one behind
Perez, who, in the final group, saved par from long of the putting surface.
Merrick hit a good drive at the par-five closing hole at the Palmer Private
Course. His second came up short and he pitched his third to 12 feet.
Merrick's putt stayed above ground and he would need some help from Perez to
make a playoff.
Perez promptly ended any chance of that.
He hit a long drive down the fairway and then his second rolled up two feet
from the hole. Perez kicked it in for his first PGA Tour title.
"I killed it. I couldn't believe how far down I got it there," said Perez. "I
wasn't upset either."
Until Sunday, most people knew Perez by the reputation of his temper. At
Pebble Beach in 2002, Perez held the lead on the 18th tee, but triple-bogeyed
the hole and lost to Matt Gogel.
He slammed clubs against the ground. He cursed and he never won.
That changed on Sunday.
"It was the same thing at Pebble," joked Perez. "You have a par three, then a
a par five and things went south. I said that wasn't going to happen today.
We're going to make things happen."
Merrick shot a five-under 67 on Sunday to take second at minus-30.
"I had a lot of fun," admitted Merrick. "It's great for me to get in that
position. I started the day eight back so to have a chance with the last
couple holes is all I could ask for."
Winds kicked up significantly on Sunday and the biggest victim was overnight-
leader Steve Stricker. He triple-bogeyed seven and quadruple-bogeyed 10 after
one drive out of bounds and one in the water.
The massive blowup from Stricker left Perez, who had four birdies, a bogey and
a double-bogey on the front nine, alone in the lead, but also allowed more
players back into the tournament.
The first to step up was Merrick.
He recorded four birdies on the front nine, but joined Perez atop the
leaderboard with an eagle at the par-five 11th.
That partnership in first didn't last long. Perez two-putted for a birdie at
11 and Merrick could not get up and down from the side of the 12th green. That
left Perez with a two-shot cushion.
That margin got cut in half when Merrick tapped in a short birdie putt at the
par-four 14th. Perez went a little off the green with his tee ball at 15 and
paid the price. He chipped 12 feet past the stick and missed the comebacker.
Then it was Perez who played better down the stretch.
Stricker finished with a five-over 77 and tied for third place with 2003
champion Mike Weir, who posted a five-under 67. The pair finished at 28-under
Stephen Ames (63), Bo Van Pelt (67), Tim Clark (69) and Webb Simpson (69)
shared fifth place at minus-27.
Last year's winner D.J. Trahan shot a two-under 70 and tied for 14th place at
01/25 19:49:37 ET