Kenny Perry wins 3M Championship for third and final time
By MIKE COOK,
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Kenny Perry created more drama than he wanted Sunday in the last 3M Championship.
He closed with a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory in the PGA Tour Champions event that is being replaced by the PGA Tour’s 3M Open.
Also the 2014 and 2015 winner at TPC Twin Cities, the 57-year-old Perry matched Hale Irwin’s tournament record of three victories in the final edition of the event that started in 1993 at Bunker Hills.
“It’s an honor. Incredible. He’s one of the greatest players of all time,” Perry said.
Perry’s not done at the course where he finished in the top seven in all but one of his eight appearances, saying he’ll participate in the 2019 3M Open. Players in the top-50 PGA Tour career money list — Perry is 26th — can cash in a one-time, season-long exemption to return to the tour after they’ve lost status.
“This golf course fits me to a T. … It’s going to be so long next year, I probably won’t even recognize it when I come back,” he said. “I’ll be back here hitting long irons while those kids will be hitting wedges.”
Five shots ahead after rounds of 66 and 60, Perry finished at 21-under 195 to win his 10th senior title and first since the 2017 U.S. Senior Open. He won the last of his 14 PGA Tour titles in 2008.
Following offseason shoulder surgery, Perry’s best finish this season had been fifth at the Insperity Invitational in early May.
“I was very nervous today,” he said. “It’s hard to go out with a five-shot lead and be the hunted instead of being the hunter. It felt very odd out there. I didn’t want to give it away; I didn’t want to play too aggressive, I didn’t want to play too safe.”
He came out flat and mishit many shots.
Back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7 — Perry had one in the first two rounds — coupled with a seventh-hole birdie by Glen Day dropped Perry’s lead to one stroke. Day had a bogey at the par-3 eighth and Perry rolled in a birdie putt at nine, pushing the lead back to three.
“That calmed me down and I was able to go out there and shoot a good back nine,” said Perry, who was 14-under on the back nine this week.
Looking for his first win since the 2014 Quebec Championship, Wes Short Jr. was second after a 63.
“Last year I shot 62 in the final round and I was thinking about that today, and (four) years ago I shot 62 in the last round,” said Short, who finished seventh last year and ninth in 2014. “I knew that catching Kenny was probably going to be out of the question, but I thought maybe I could get second with a good round today.”
Playing two groups in front of Perry, Short got within two shots with three holes to go, but Perry made a birdie putt at 16 for a three-shot advantage.
“I knew I needed to make that, somehow get that in there to give a little bit of a cushion,” Perry said.
In his first tour event, Tom Gillis (67) joined Day (70) six shots back at 15 under. Gillis, who turned 50 July 16, won the Tuesday qualifier.
“I haven’t played golf for seven days in a row in over two years, so I was happy how I held up physically and mentally,” Gillis said. “I lost my status on the tour when I was 48. … I’m overly pleased.”