Defending U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry spoke Tuesday about trying to hold onto the title, playing The Broadmoor, visiting the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the large galleries expected for John Smoltz and more.
Q: You played The Broadmoor’s East Course in May, what were your impressions?
KENNY PERRY: I couldn’t thank … the USGA enough for picking this whole golf course because the whole golf course is right to left. It’s a big, high-ball hitter. You gotta hook it and you gotta just send it. And it fits right in my wheelhouse. I thought immediately – I even told my caddie, I said, if we can somehow figure these greens out and get my putting back on track I’ve got a real good shot this week. Really looking forward to the challenge. The rough’s very severe. But those greens are really tough. I think I could probably play out here 10 years straight and not figure out how to putt these greens. Everything runs away from that shrine, I realize that. I’m still having trouble with the uphillers; they still go a lot further past the hole than I think they should be going. I’ve got to get my speed toned down a bit. But the golf course is beautiful. It’s in great shape. It’s a greatest test. And I can see why, I think it was Eduardo Romero was the only one who shot under par here in ‘08. I can see why only one person broke under par here. It’s a great golf course and I’m excited to be here. And hopefully get that putter working and have a good shot at it again.
Q. Repeating as a U.S. Open champion is extremely rare, but we just saw it done on the regular tour by Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open …
PERRY: He’s motivated me. Brooks has motivated me. I’d like to go back-to-back just like Brooks did. That would be incredible.
Q. Why is it rare? Is it because the courses are so different?
PERRY: That’s correct. The courses are different. It’s the toughest test you’ll face – physically, mentally. This was the hardest walk. I needed oxygen out there today. I’m telling you, It seemed like every hole was uphill. It was a tough walk. I’m telling you, guys who are playing well they could actually physically fatigue coming down the stretch. And you lose your legs, whatever, next thing you know you pull one of them drives out in the trouble and you’re in trouble. So guys gotta be in shape this week.
Q. Coming up to altitude, do you change the ball you hit or make any other sorts of adjustments?
PERRY: I thought about it. I play the Pro V, the all black ball, Titleist, and it spins less than the X, which is the red ball. I thought about putting it in play this week, just to try to get a little more spin on the golf ball, keep it in the air longer. But I didn’t. It went fine today. I had plenty of distance. And the ball stopped well on the greens. So I didn’t see any reason to change.
Q. And what’s the perspective from, obviously there’s a Who’s Who of golfers out there and the biggest galleries might be for John Smoltz, the baseball player?
PERRY: I agree. That’s quite an accomplishment. Hall of Famer in baseball, to be able to come out of baseball and to be able to qualify for this event. I actually played with Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux. That was the next year after I won the Bob Hope, one of my foursomes was that threesome. That’s when they were all pitching so well in Atlanta. I got to see Smoltz then. He hit it nine miles. Probably hit it 50 yards by me back then. He’s probably still doing it now. He’s very talented. It’s an incredible accomplishment.
Q. Do you welcome the galleries for him?
PERRY: Definitely. … If he brings more galleries, I’m all for that, we need more people to come out and support the Champions Tour.
Q. Does it ever make you pause enough to say, with the complexity of these greens, do you think about forgoing the guy who normally carries your bag and go to a caddie who has been around for a while?
PERRY: I asked Russ Miller if he would caddie for me. He said he would, but I didn’t want to let my caddie down to take him. Russ is – he’s director of golf here – a great guy. He gave me a great 18-hole practice when I came out early a couple of months ago. But he gave me the lowdown of the place. I’ve got a pretty good idea how to play the golf course. I just need to execute.
Q. When you were in Colorado this past May you got up to the Broncos and the Rockies. What were the highlights of the trip?
PERRY: Fantastic. I mean, I got a kick out of the Olympic Village. That, to me, getting to meet the skull rider, I guess — the little dude that’s on the sled with his — skeleton. He told me he pulled six Gs on that bobsled course. I can’t imagine – I’ve been in a race car that pulled three Gs or drag car that pulled three Gs when I let the clutch out immediately, and that scared the life out of me. I can’t imagine doing six with my face an inch off the ice. That was pretty incredible. Then the Paralympian I met, she showed me her prosthetic that — she was a triathlete. She showed me the leg she used for biking and what she used for swimming. And then for running, she had a blade that she used for running. And then she pulled out of her back pocket, she pulled out a gold medal. And I said, let me have that; I gotta hold that gold medal. And that dude was heavy. I didn’t realize how heavy those things are. It was pretty cool. Then boxing, I got to meet a couple of the boxers, and I wouldn’t want to be hit by those guys. They are hitting that bag hard. It was an awesome day. Then I got to go to the Broncos facility. I hit balls against a few of the Broncos out there, a 140-yard shot. Got to see their workout facility. Then went to a Colorado Rockies game and I got to go into the dugout there and meet the skipper and a couple of the players. And it’s pretty neat. You get out of your own element and you get into another guy’s world, another — it’s pretty incredible to kind of be in their shoes a minute and see what they do. So more power to John Smoltz.
Q: You missed some time with the shoulder surgery. What did you do when you were away?
PERRY: I got seven grandkids, 7 and under. So that was a lot of fun. I actually got closer to them. I like old hot rods. I restore a lot of old cars. I actually finished up my ‘57 Chevy and a ‘55 Chevy. I was able to spend more time with them day in and day out, putting those together. And a lot of time with Sandy. And actually got to sleep in my bed for six months straight. I have never done that. That was kind of nice. … It was a great six months off. I did miss golf quite a bit. I wanted to go out and hit some balls and I knew I physically couldn’t do it. And when something’s taken away from you, you take for granted what you’ve done your whole life and it’s taken away from you, you get a second lease on life.