Kenny Perry offered the slightest grin on the practice tee late Sunday morning when one of his first warm-up shots with a 54-degree lob wedge rainbowed off a moving target about 90 yards away.
It’s a favorite pastime of country club kids everywhere: aim for the poor soul driving the range cart. Kind of fitting, as Perry has made TPC Twin Cities his personal playground.
And he says there’s more fun to come.
Perry won the 26th and final edition of the 3M Championship in Blaine with a 21-under-par score, surviving a front-nine bobble that threatened to erase his five-shot lead to start. But Perry settled down on the back nine. By the time he got to the 18th hole, where he he had made eagle on the first two days, Perry laid up to card a 3-under 69 and win by three over fast-charging Wes Short Jr.
Afterward, Perry toted his third 3M trophy into the interview room — something only Hale Irwin has likewise done — then declared he will be back in in 11 months for the PGA Tour’s 3M Open.
“You will see me back here,” he said.
Perry made $32,123,130 during his PGA Tour career, good for 26th on the all-time list. Players in the top 50 can cash in a one-time, season-long exemption to return to the tour after they have lost status.
Only Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, Steve Stricker and David Toms are PGA Tour Champions players with more career money than Perry.
“This golf course fits me to a T,” said Perry, who at 57 years, 11 months and 26 days is the oldest 3M winner. “I probably won’t recognize it when I come back. I hate that they’re going to change it. But I’m going to play.”
It’s easy to understand the decision.
Perry’s $262,500 winner’s check gives him $1,146,570.84 in all-time earnings in Blaine in eight 3M appearances, the second-most all time behind the $1,248,993.05 Irwin made in 19 starts.
Perry, also the winner 2014 and ’15, finished tied for 37th in 2016 but otherwise never left Blaine worse than seventh.
“The way he plays with the lead, especially on this course the way it suits his game so well, I don’t think there was any chance I was going to get within seven or eight shots of him,” said Tom Lehman, who began Sunday nine shots behind Perry, shot 69 on Sunday and finished tied for 10th at 12 under.
Lehman predicted Perry would “win in a laugher.”
While many considered the tournament done for after Perry shot a 12-under 60 in Saturday’s second round to go ahead by five, he sputtered some Sunday. A birdie on No. 3 got Perry to 19 under but after back-to-back bogeys on No. 6 and No. 7 while Glen Day, alone in second, posted his third birdie, suddenly it was a one-stroke advantage.
“I didn’t stress out,” Perry said. “Bogeys won’t kill you when you’ve got a big lead and I knew that.”
Day then lapsed with a bogey of his own at No. 8 and lost his hold on second place while Short kept making birdies. Short made nine in all on his day, posting a 63 and his best finish since a solo second at the 2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Day (70) and Tom Gillis (67), a Tuesday qualifier, tied for third at 15 under.
“I knew that catching Kenny was going to probably be out of the question,” Short said. “Second place was within reach. I just kept it in play and the putter worked.”
It was all in line for Perry. And he is ready for an encore.