After taking a few weeks off, PGA Tour player Pat Perez returns to action this week at the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C. Double P has made six cuts in nine events, with a couple of top 10 finishes. Pat answered my questions during his recent break in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Armchair Golf: Coming off a disappointing year with injuries, how did you prepare for this season?
Pat Perez: I tried to get the elbow solid, for sure. Working it, strength conditioning, stretching, all that. I spent the better part of last year with it only at 50 percent. When you sit around on the sidelines as long as I did, you have a ton of time to think.
I spent a lot of my off-season thinking about how I’d attack upcoming courses. I thought a lot about the strategy of certain courses. What kind of shots I wanted to play.
Since the Sony was first, I thought a lot about the winds in Hawaii. This was my sixth time playing out there, so I know the course and the conditions. I’ve seen that wind blow from all angles. I really thought a lot about what shots I’d hit and how I’d play the course after so much time off. Thankfully it paid off (finished 10th) and set the tone early on.
Armchair Golf: Last year you said you kept Advil in business. Are your elbows pain-free and 100 percent?
Pat Perez: I was feeling solid at the beginning of the season, but I’m sore now after eight straight weeks out there. It’s a tolerable pain, though. Not like last year. The pain is in a different area. It’s not as sharp.
I’ve rested a few weeks, will play at the Verizon and just warm up the engine each week. Once it gets going, I don’t feel anything out there. By then I’m focused on the course and my game.
Armchair Golf: You have two top 10 finishes at the Sony Open and Nissan Open and currently sit at No. 50 on the money list. Talk about your goal to finish in the top 30 this year and how you think you’re doing.
Pat Perez: I need to keep doing what I’m doing. Top 30 is huge because it gets you into all the big events — big money and more FedEx Cup points.
Your number one goal always goes back to winning. That first win gets me top 50 in the world. Secure the majors, get in all the smaller field stuff like the World Golf events.
Armchair Golf: How many events do you plan to play this year?
Pat Perez: At least 30. Might slow it down at some point, but who knows. Once you get that win, then you reassess your goals. You want to get into the top 30, then the top 10, top 5. For me, I think it’ll be harder to slow down once the first win comes.
Armchair Golf: The last couple of years you’ve had good success at the Honda Classic and TPC. What do you like about playing the Florida swing?
Pat Perez: I like the Bermuda grass. Those are great greens. Some of the best out there. That shaved Bermuda, it’s a perfect surface. It’s bent grass out here in Scottsdale. I’m used to that kind of stuff after living in the desert since 2002. The Florida courses, the desert courses — I seem to putt well there.
Look at the other guys who live or train in Arizona — Calc, Timmy Clark, Aaron Baddeley, they all putt well here and in Florida.
Editor’s note: Perez was the Q-School medalist in 2001 and shot a course record 60 in the opening round of last year’s Bob Hope.
Armchair Golf: How’s your ball striking? What are you working on?
Pat Perez: Good. My coach (Michael Owen) and I are working on getting me to hit more on the inside of the ball.
Armchair Golf: How’s your short game? What are you working on?
Pat Perez: Pretty good. We’re working on speed and line of my putting.
(To be continued. Tomorrow Double P talks about John Daly, the majors, riding time and more.)
The Armchair Golfer
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Tomorrow: Pat Perez Interview, Part 2