October 03, 2011
If you asked people around the golf world who were the truly nice guys on tour, Kenny Perry's name would pop up quite a bit. The now 51-year-old Perry had a great PGA Tour career, winning 14 titles and nearly taking home the 2009 Masters, and while he's still playing in the occasional PGA Tour event, he is making that slow transition to the Champions Tour.
And this weekend Perry won his first event on the over-50 tour, but it wasn't exactly under the circumstances he would have liked. Perry had to play after finding out his sister, Kay, had succumbed to a battle with breast cancer on Saturday night. He considered not even playing on Sunday, but his dad told him he needed to go out there and represent his older sister's memory, and that's just what Perry did.
"When I heard the news (Saturday night), it was a long night, I didn't sleep a lot, thought about just getting on a plane and going home. But Dad was great, he called me, he said, 'Son, you just need to go out there and represent Kay today.' So all I did today was think of her and think of my mom."
Perry's win was something special. It's weird how sometimes your best performances come after a personal loss. Brett Favre did it in that incredible Monday Night Football game in 2003 the day after his father passed away. Ben Crenshaw won his second green jacket in 1995 just a week after his long-time mentor, Harvey Penick, died, and now we have Perry, claiming his first Champions Tour title on the heels of some really tough news.
Golf is such a mental game that you need to be 100 percent focused on every shot to be able to really compete, but at times, it's easier to just go out and swing the golf club without really thinking about what you're doing. Perry did this on Sunday, and while he will be grieving for a while, he can be proud of what he did and how he honored his sister.