LOUISVILLE — Kenny Perry had a few opportunities to go very low Saturday at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, but the end result was another solid 2-under 69 to move him to 3 under for the tournament.
Perry had a wild first six holes that included two birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on No. 4. He shot even par on the back nine and drove the green in two on the par-5 18th, but three-putted to settle for par.
I spoke after the round with Perry and his playing partner for the third straight day, Ryan Moore. Their comments:
On his round: “I played nicely. I struggle on (No. 2 and No. 6). Those are two hard holes for me out here, but I eagled 4. I drove it on the green. That hole’s going to have a lot of fireworks today. All in all, the score’s are really good. … It’s going to be a good day. There are a lot of scoring opportunities, which is kind of typical. Saturday’s usually the day they set it up and give us a chance to score. Tomorrow, you’ll see dead opposite. You’ll see really severe pin placements. It’ll be a severe test tomorrow.”
On being announced as ‘Mr. Kentucky’ each day on the 18th hole: “That’s quite a statement. I don’t know about that one. It’s pretty cool, though. I don’t consider myself Mr. Kentucky by no means. But I am a Kentuckian and proud of it.”
Looking forward to 54th birthday Sunday? “Not really. At my age, you don’t look forward to birthdays. Hopefully it’s just another nice day, I go out there and have a good round of golf. We’re going to have a good time tonight. They’ve got a big party for me tonight over at Mark Page’s house, so we’re going to have a good time tonight, enjoy this and come out tomorrow and have a good day.”
Thoughts after driving green on No. 4, then getting eagle: “I was thinking I needed that one 28 years ago, in 1996. That’s the drive I needed. That’s the exact thought that hit my head.”
Have you given the fans the show you wanted? “Oh yeah, by far. Shoot yeah. They’ve shown me a lot of love, and I’ve shown them a lot of love. … To be able to end it here in Kentucky, it couldn’t be any sweeter.”
Best memory of this week so far: “I felt like Tiger Woods or a rock star. I really did. In my whole career, I’ve never felt like that. Everybody on every hole was, ‘I’m from Bowling Green or Glasgow or Hopkinsville.’ Somewhere near Franklin, Ky. It’s been pretty incredible, to tell you the truth.”
Perry said could be some fireworks in afternoon. That so? “It’s possible. It’s soft, and there’s not a lot of wind. There are some pins in some very accessible spots, and there could definitely be some good scores. It’s still Saturday at a major, and you still have to hit a lot of fairways and hit good shots and make putts. That’s never easy in a major.”
Perry’s reception after playing with him for three days: “He’s one of my favorite people to play with probably of all-time. I’ve always enjoyed playing with him. He was on tour for my first five or six years out here. He was always fun to play with. Obviously he’s loved and welcomed into every tee box, every green – everything out here. It’s kind of fun to see someone that’s that appreciated in his home area.”