US Senior Open Golf
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Kenny Perry tees off on the third hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament, Sunday, July 2, 2017, in Peabody, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Kenny Perry is proud of his Senior Open title, so proud he defies all risks and displays the gleaming silver trophy at the course he designed in his hometown of Franklin, Ky. Kenny Perry's  Country Creek Golf Course beckons from – you guessed it - Kenny Perry Drive.

“I just think all the people who come through my little course need to see it, need to see what it’s all about, see all the names, see what it represents,” Perry says.

Notice how often Perry uses the word “see.” And notice he never uses the word “touch.”

When the trophy is moved, Perry puts on white gloves and gently picks up his prize.

Would he ever touch the trophy with his bare hands?

Perry grimaces at the question.

“No,” he says in his Kentucky drawl. “Never. You don’t touch the sterling silver. It makes it turn a gold color, and then you have to polish it back up.”

As Perry talks, the trophy is resting – looking shiny and nice, of course – a few feet away. He traveled to Colorado Springs Monday to talk about the thrills of winning a Senior Open and his hopes to repeat June 28-July 1 at the East Course of The Broadmoor Golf Club.

He’s been a little worried a burglar will swipe the trophy. The pro shop at his course has been broken into, he says, “four or five times.” But his worries have been overwhelmed by his desire to share the trophy with his friends.

For Perry, 57, winning two Senior Opens banished disappointment from his career. It’s been a hugely prosperous ride; Perry boasts career winnings of $41.3 million.

But he never flew quite as high as he wanted. Victories at the Senior Open in 2013 in 2017 allowed him to, finally, soar to the heights.

“I couldn’t get it done in the regular tour,” he says, looking at the trophy. “This takes off the pain that I still carry with me.”

Last summer, he won the Senior Open at the Salem Country Club near Boston. When he clinched victory, he turned to the gallery and instantly saw a woman leaping and shouting with joy. She stood out in the throng.

It was Sandy Perry, his sweetheart since his junior high days in Franklin.

Back home, Perry enjoys watching golfers examine the trophy. They gasp when reading the winners. Arnold Palmer in 1981. Lee Trevino in 1990. Jack Nicklaus in 1991. Tom Weiskopf in 1995.

2018?

Perry understands the immensity of the challenge. He’ll battle a hungry, talented field that includes Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson and Davis Love.

And he’ll battle his aching body. Perry underwent surgery on his right shoulder six months ago. Without golf to keep him active, he’s gained 20 pounds, zooming from 230 to 250. Every time he unloads a drive, he braces for a “lightning bolt” of pain to invade his shoulder.

But it’s not just the shoulder.

 “You never know,” Perry says to his slightly older listener. “You’re my age. You realize how hard the game gets every day when you wake up. There’s always aches and pains. There’s always something going on with us the older we get.

“I wonder each day when I wake up, what kind of game am I going to have today?  Am I going to be able to have full capacity or am I going to  have to mandate something that’s going to hurt me?”

Perry arrived in Colorado Springs in darkness late Sunday night. He awoke Monday to sunshine at his Broadmoor suite, opened the curtain and admired dazzling mountain views. He was feeling good, filled with hope.

Then he toured every hole of the East Course.

“This place looks hard,” he says as he thinks back to his 2017 victory. “This place looks like Salem on steroids.”

He’ll devote the next six weeks to studying the course. He’s heard grim stories about the punishing, unpredictable greens, and plans to call golfers who have endured and mastered the course.

Yes, he’s plotting, despite his shoulder, to win. He wants that shiny trophy to return, yet again, to his course on Kenny Perry Drive.