Kenny Perry Wins the Travelers Championship in Convincing Fashion

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2009

CROMWELL, CT - JUNE 28: Kenny Perry celebrates winning the 2009 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 28, 2009 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

CROMWELL, CT—There was really only one way for Kenny Perry to put the disappointment of the 2009 Masters behind him once and for all: win.  

Not only did Kenny Perry win last week at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., but he did so in unbelievably convincing fashion.

Perry's final round 63 brought him to 258 for the week, which was the fourth best tournament score in PGA Tour history.

In addition, Perr's 258 was also the lowest score ever recorded in the 57-year history of the Travelers Championship.

Perry is a polite, soft-spoken man, so he would never in a million years stand up in front of a crowd or room full of reporters and scream at the top of his lungs, “The Masters is over and done with!”

However, if his golf clubs and particularly his confident demeanor on the back nine on Sunday could do his talking for him, that’s exactly what they would have said.

Perry went out and took the 2009 Travelers Championship, which is something that’s become a bit of a novelty in this day and age of the game.

Perry was playing solid but by no means exceptional golf through the first seven holes on Sunday.

It was on the par-three eighth where the momentum would swing towards Perry’s corner and remain there for the rest of the afternoon.  

Paul Goydos, the 54-hole leader, lost his lead to Perry after Perry got up and down for a birdie on the par-five sixth.

But following just an average approach shot by tour standards, Goydos rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-four seventh to tie Perry for the tournament lead at 17-under-par.

This would be the last time Goydos would hold a share of the lead during the 2009 Travelers Championship. Kenny Perry was about to turn on the afterburners and never look back.  

Perry hit a five-iron to less than three feet from the hole on the par-three eighth, and when Goydos three-putted from the fringe for a bogey, it was a two-stroke swing.

“Eight was the sweetest five-iron I've hit in a long time” Perry said after his round in Cromwell. “That sucker never left the flag. Looked like it was going in, and it just kind of creeped off to the left and I had a three-footer, tapped in.”

Perry caught a bad break on the par-four ninth when his ball partially embedded in a hill that could have been mistaken for quicksand due to all the rain that had recently swept through the area.

The best Perry could do was punch his ball back out into the fairway, and with Goydos already on the green and only six feet from the hole, it was looking as if there would now be a another two-stroke swing in the other direction.

However, Perry’s pitch shot checked up eight feet from the hole, where he would go on to sink the putt, while Goydos was unable to convert on his birdie opportunity.

During the course of any round, there is often one single shot that is crucial to keeping a player's momentum going, and for Kenny Perry, it was his eight-foot par putt on the ninth hole.

“My putter was on today,” Perry said. “I knew I was putting well. I rolled that one in to perfect speed. Slipped in the right side of the hole. That was a nice momentum-saver to keep the round going.”

Perry went on to birdie the 10th and 11th, just missed a birdie putt on the par-five 13th, and lipped out his birdie putt on the 14th.

On the 296 yard par-four 15th, Perry put his opponents up against the ropes. After hitting his tee shot just short of the green, Perry would get up and down for birdie and extend his lead to two strokes over a charging David Toms and three strokes over Goydos, despite Goydos’ eagle two on the hole.

Goydos followed his eagle at the 15th with an impressive birdie at the par-three 16th to pull within two strokes of Perry with just two holes to play.

A two-stroke lead with just two to play?

Sound eerily similar to the 2009 Masters?

But this was neither Augusta National nor the Masters, and this Kenny Perry had learned from the mistakes of his past.

“That deal taught me a lot today,” Perry said of the 2009 Masters. 

“To think all I gotta do is make two pars to win a tournament, and I couldn't get it done. I really played heavy the way I played that back nine today. I knew there was so many guys right there in contention that could catch me. David was playing great in front of us. I was looking at the leaderboard watching on the back side, so I knew I had to keep making birdies. So I wasn't going to let up. I wasn't going to play defensive golf, and I learned something from that mistake.”

Perry would deliver the knockout punch in the form of a seven iron he hit to less than six feet on the par-four 17th. He would go on to make birdie and extend his lead to three strokes heading to the 72nd hole.

“That gave me a three-shot cushion, to make the 18th hole, where I didn't have to stress out. I knew pretty much anybody could probably play that hole and win the golf tournament,” Perry said.

Last week, Perry put on one of the finest displays of golf seen on the PGA Tour in quite some time. 

Perry opened with a 61 and closed with a 63, which could have easily been another 61 had several birdie putts decided to fall rather than lip out on Sunday.

The win, which was his second of the 2009 season and fifth in the past two years, moves Perry to the top of the FedEx Cup standings and jumps him all the way up to fourth in the World Golf Rankings.

During the trophy presentation, which was hosted by ESPN’s Chris Berman, a jacket was placed upon Perry’s back. The jacket was navy blue and not green. But to Kenny Perry, it must have felt almost as sweet.