There were no chip-ins, dramatic putts or over-exaggerated fist pumps. This one was on cruise control.
Kenny Perry had one mission for the 3M Championship, and he had no intentions to make it modest.
“I told [wife] Sandy if we could somehow repeat or have a solid, strong week we’d accomplish our goal,” Perry said.
Perry has never finished worse than seventh at TPC Twin Cities so a strong finish in Sunday’s final round was pretty much a given. But a repeat? That had never been done in the event’s 12-year history.
When Perry tapped in for par to close out a 4-under-par 68 he raised his cap and saluted the large gallery around the 18th green. Sandy was there to greet him for a celebratory smooch.
Perry’s parade marched through a couple of detours, but the 3M Championship was never seriously in doubt.
The leader by four shots entering the final round, Perry survived a scorecard hiccup early, another late and the long way around the 18th hole to finish at 14 under par for the tournament, winning the title by four strokes over Kevin Sutherland, Scott Dunlap and two-time 3M winner Bernhard Langer.
It is Perry’s first victory since this event last August.
“It’s fantastic, to tell you the truth,” Perry said. “This was a big week for me.”
Few believed Perry could be caught after posting a record-tying 61 on Saturday. But northwest winds returned for the final round, making the course tricky at times to navigate. Perry said he never felt comfortable until late in the round. Early on, he began to wonder if his work from the first two rounds was slipping away.
Perry saw his lead shrivel to two after the first hole when he bogeyed and Sutherland made birdie. The players matched birdies at Nos. 2, 3 and 5.
“I thought, ‘Wow, he’s gonna shoot that round,’ ” Perry said. “I better get it together here.”
Perry got his four-shot cushion back after Sutherland made bogey on No. 8, missing a 4½-foot putt right of the cup. Sutherland then made nine consecutive pars before a birdie on 18.
That was the story of the week for Sutherland, who was 13 under par on holes 1-5 but just 1 under on the rest of the course.
“This was Kenny’s tournament, and he went out and won it,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland finished second for the third time this season. Perry picked up $262,500 for the win and moved from 25th to 11th in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points race, in firm grasp of a spot in the season-ending championship for the tour’s top 30 players.
Sutherland remained in the top five of the standings but lamented not moving up further with a win.
“I didn’t give myself a ton of great opportunities and the ones I did I did not hit quality putts,” he said. “I just hit them very thin. Just wasn’t finishing the stroke. A lot of poor efforts for birdie. That took away any chance of me shooting in the mid-60s.”
That’s what it was going to take to catch Perry, and no one came close.
“That one guy Kenny Perry is just better on this course,” said Langer, who shot 67 and finished second for a third time in Blaine. “He stuck to his game plan and got off to a good start. If he shoots 4-5 under, everybody else is going to have a real rough time in these conditions.”
The last window of opportunity for the field opened when Perry bogeyed No. 14 after skipping a chip shot over the green and nearly all the way to a water hazard. But he rebounded with a birdie two holes later and by that time there was no doubt who would hoist the silver cup trophy.
Even a bad drive on 18 didn’t deter Perry. The shot forced him to lay up left of the large pond in front of the green for the first time on the go-for-eagle closing hole.
“It felt weird,” Perry said. “I barely got it on the green. I didn’t even know how to play that shot.”
He played all the others with just the right touch, rolling in big putts when he needed to while giving fans a repeat performance of well-played golf and thoughts of a three-peat.
“I’m definitely looking forward to coming back,” Perry said.