PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – Pat Perez isn’t comfortable at TPC Sawgrass. He’s so uncomfortable, he even booked a flight home on Saturday with the assumption he wouldn’t be playing the weekend at the Players.
He did make the cut, on the number, nonetheless. And he looked plenty comfortable on Saturday, shooting a 6-under 66 to tie for the low round of the tournament and put himself at 4 under overall within shouting distance of the leaders.
Don’t tell him that, though.
“It doesn’t fit my eye on almost any shot, like everybody else,” Perez said. “You know who loves it? Maybe the winner on Sunday? That’s about it. It’s a hard course. There’s not a shot out there that I’m comfortable hitting.”
Maybe so, but it didn’t stop him from hitting shots like this one on No. 17:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 13, 2017
Perez, well known for his brutal honesty, has enjoyed a renaissance this season. He won in November at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and has turned in three top-5 finishes since, with a total of nine top-25 finishes for the season. All of this a year after he had no top-25s in an injury-plagued 2015-16 campaign.
Asked to assess his strong play, Perez said he didn’t want to get into it. And then he did.
“I have a whole different outlook at life after being gone for a little bit and really not one person caring, other than my caddie or my wife,” Perez said. “To be told at 40, ‘You can’t do it, you can’t come back, we don’t really believe in you,’ this kind of stuff, it really can get you upset. And it’s a hell of a motivator to come back after being on Tour that long and saying, ‘You know what, I think the best is ahead of me and I’m really going to do my absolute all to prove everybody wrong and be successful,’ and then when I get back on top, which I am, I don’t have to say anything.”
He may not have to say anything, but that doesn’t mean he will be quiet. Perez occasionally has run into trouble by offering his opinion or running hot under the collar. But rarely has he lacked for confidence.
“Nobody’s going to give me a chance more than I am,” Perez said. “It’s always nice, because I’ve never been in the top, so I’ve never been in any talks of like top players or a guy that’s never won a major. I’ve always been kind of an under-the-radar guy that never gets talked about.
“And that’s fine. I actually like it, because I don’t have to worry about anything, nobody expects me to do interviews, nobody expects me to be on the podium, nobody expects me to do anything. I can go about my business and do what I want.”
He was expected on the podium Saturday. A duplicate effort on Sunday may get him all the way into the media center.