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Pat Perez claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the 50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer, in La Quinta California with a three-stroke victory over John Merrick.
The 32-year-old started like a train in the 90-hole event setting a 36-hole PGA Tour scoring record after opening rounds of 61 and 63. But scintillating rounds of 61 and 62 on days three and four by Steve Stricker, meant Perez trailed by three shots going into the final round.
Perez came out of the blocks fast in a windy final round with three birdies in a row from the second, but all that good work was undone with a double bogey at the 5th then a bogey at the 7th. He steadied the ship, however, and played the remaining holes in three under par. His score was aided by a fantastic eagle three at the closing hole where he bravely went for the green in two. “I don't lay up," Perez said. "I hit a 6-iron. I mean, how hard is it? I'm not going to lay up with a wedge over here and hit a wedge over there. It's a 6-iron. I was going to hit it."
Perez played some solid golf but Steve Stricker should have had the tournament sewn up. When he birdied the 6th hole he moved to -34 and opened a three-stroke lead. But he then had a triple bogey on the 7th and a quadruple bogey on the 10th, hitting into the water on both holes. "It was hard for me to feel comfortable with anything, and it showed for me a couple of times today." He said.
John Merrick played a fine final round of 67 to lift himself into second place – his best ever finish on the PGA Tour. Merrick was helped by an amazing piece of luck on the 16th. His approach was headed for the ditch next to the green but his ball hit its concrete lining, bounced into the air and onto the green ending just 10-feet from the hole.
50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer PGA West, California Jan 21-25, purse $5,100,000, par 72
1 Pat Perez (USA) 61 63 67 67 69 327 $918,000 2 John Merrick (USA) 68 65 67 63 67 330 $550,800 T3 Steve Stricker (USA) 65 67 61 62 77 332 $295,800 T3 Mike Weir (Can) 62 70 67 66 67 332 $295,800 T5 Stephen Ames (Can) 71 63 70 66 63 333 $179,138 T5 Tim Clark (RSA) 66 69 63 66 69 333 $179,138 T5 Webb Simpson (USA) 68 66 64 66 69 333 $179,138 T5 Bo Van Pelt (USA) 66 65 68 67 67 333 $179,138
Note: Players in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?