Kenny Perry is about as country as a pair of bib overalls. (Which he occasionally wears.) He lives in the country, no reflection on Franklin, Ky., where he has always been home. He decided Franklin needed a golf course, so he built one, bought 142 acres and borrowed $2.5 million to foot the bill. Naturally, he named it Country Creek.
Rees Jones and Tom Fazio and all those other designers of golf courses are safe. Kenny won’t be horning in on their trade. Country Creek looks nice from the interstate, makes you want to stop and play nine. But I’ll tell you, the little course will weary your limbs. It’s not, I might add, the kind of club that invites wedding parties and frou-frou fandangos.
But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. We’re talking about Kenny Perry, who would be the club pro, if Country Creek had one. He’s busy on the road, has been since 1987, and going into this season had earned $26-million-plus playing the PGA Tour. He has contributed mightily to the town economy, and to two educational institutions.
Right now he is working on the prospect of picking up another $10 million to add to his bounty. He is leading the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, by two strokes over Tiger Woods, and if he holds up one more day, 10 mil would be has. It’s a complicated process, and I won’t bother to explain it here, even if I could. Just understand that five players have a leg up on the rest of the field of 30 — Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum.
If Perry holds his lead through the final round Sunday, he takes the pot. Can you imagine that, the master of Country Creek at Franklin, Ky., stashing away 10 million bucks for four days of golf. He could build 10,000 more Country Creeks, and he wouldn’t have to do any more mowing, or working the counter.
It has taken him 49 years to hit his prime, and if you weren’t aware of his age, network broadcasters will annoy you with their constant reminders. As if, at his age, he is booking a reservation in some retirement colony. He had his richest moment last year, when the Ryder Cup came to Kentucky, and he qualified for the U.S. team.
The President’s Cup is coming up this month, but when someone brought that up, he left no doubt about the Cup that he preferred. “I was so nervous in front of my home state at Valhalla in the Ryder Cup,” and he left no doubt where his heart lies.
He changed caddies the other day, putting aside a fellow who had been his associate on the bag for several years, and it did strike a sour note. But you could understand — he put the bag in the hands of his son, and they were the Team Perry at East Lake. Now, if the rain has abated, and the flood that struck shortly after play Saturday, the issue will be settled Sunday. Say this for Rob Johnston and Danny Yates, the co-chairs, they abided by the weather authority, moved up the start and the timing couldn’t have been better. Thirty minutes after the finish, down came enough rain to float an ark.