Wisdom from older to younger
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Kenny Perry, one of three Champions Tour regulars who made the cut in The Greenbrier Classic, had some words of advice for young Jordan Spieth, who's made his presence felt since he turned pro in December.
Perry's advice was have patience and practice.
Those habits helped Perry, 52, win 14 times on the PGA Tour and last week at the Senior Players Championship.
"You've got to work at it from sunup to sundown," Perry said Saturday after he shot a 3-over-par 73 on the Old White TPC golf course at The Greenbrier Resort. "I outworked a lot of people. You've got to somehow forget the past. I never let bad rounds phase me. Stay in the present."
Spieth, 19, enjoyed an outstanding amateur career. He won two U.S. Junior Amateurs and helped the Texas Longhorns win an NCAA Division I national championship. At age 16, he made the cut at the Byron Nelson Open to become the sixth-youngest player to do so in a PGA Tour event.
He relied on sponsor exemptions to get into events when he turned pro. He's won more than $1.1 million and enjoys "special temporary member" status. All that's missing is that first win. He shot his third straight 67 Saturday and is tied for fourth place, trailing leader Johnson Wagner by five shots going into Sunday's final round.
"I feel really fearless. That's what you have to be," Spieth said. "I knew I'd get plenty of starts so I didn't feel the pressure. I knew I had to play well early to be out here and I have. That's been the biggest part of my success, accepting going wherever I had to.
"Once you get momentum out here, it's easy to keep it going."
Perry has seen some young stars leave school early and make it while others didn't fare well. Spieth left Texas early.
"It depends on each individual kid," he said. "Some need to stay, some need to go. It depends on the maturity of the kid, where his golf game is. His parents' financial situation. You can't play golf forever. An education is good if you can get one."
Spieth has not met or played a round of golf with Perry, but said he would be well served to heed the veteran's advice.
"I think it's unbelievable what he's done," Spieth said. "I'm not surprised he's out here. There are great players who happen to be over 50 who can still can come out and compete on these courses.Champions Tour players shoot 12- to 15-under every week and their courses are not easy.The fact he's out here shows you the sport is a marathon."
In addition to 14 PGA Tour wins, Perry has been second 10 times and third in 12 tournaments.
With the regular tour this year, he finished tied for 33rd at the HP Byron Nelson Championship and missed the cut at The Memorial. He started round three Saturday with a birdie, but a double bogey on the par-4 16th contributed to the long day.
"It's just golf. Some days you have it, some you don't," Perry said. "I don't hit it 320 yards like Bubba (Watson) and those guys, but they're not miles ahead of me. My game's still good enough to compete out here. I can't put a price tag on youth. Experience is better than youth even though I made some dumb mistakes. When you're young, you're a go-getter. You want it. You're hungry. I'm not nearly as hungry as I used to be. I enjoy it. Had my son caddie today."
Spieth served notice early this year when he finished second at the Puerto Rico Open and third at the Tampa Bay Championship.
He's already assured of having a tour card for the next season.
He won't be eligible for the FedExCup playoffs unless he's a PGA Tour member and he must win to achieve that status. The next chance comes Sunday. He is eligible to win Rookie of the Year.
"You know I feel like it's going to be easier," Spieth said. "I felt a lot better out there today, really felt calm. I think tomorrow I should be in one of the last three groups (he and Steven Bowditch are the third-to-last twosome). I'll have an idea of what's going on around me and I think handle it a little better.
"You know, I'm not trying to win by a certain age as it just trying to win so I can play with these guys some more this year. I'd really like to play in the FedExCup playoffs. The only way to do that is to win and I'm happy to be in contention again. Looks like another 67 probably won't cut it, so I'm going to have to shoot a really low round and that's saying a lot."
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