- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

Golf swings come and golf swings go — and who really knows why? One week you’re missing the cut in the Byron Nelson, the next you’re shooting a 61 and lapping the field at Colonial. And the week after that, if you’re truly on a Certified Tear, maybe you’re winning the Memorial, too.

Kenny Perry just had two weeks like that at the age of 42, giving hope to the multitude of lesser lights who populate the PGA Tour. Perry had a modest four victories in his pro career before teeing it up at Colonial, just one since ‘95. Only once had he won events in consecutive years, never mind consecutive weeks.

But while Annika Sorenstam was making headlines the first two days, Perry was making birdies. And he kept right on making them — so many that he set a tournament record with his 19-under score of 261. It was more of the same at Muirfield, and suddenly everybody is talking about Kenny Perry.

“For Kenny, it was just a question of making a few putts,” Joe Durant said yesterday at the Capital Open. “He hits it so solid and so straight, he can overpower a golf course if he’s putting well. … We’ve all had weeks when the hole looks like a washtub instead of a thimble. Basically, you just try to stay out of your own way — not think too much, just swing the club.”

Durant had a couple of weeks like that two years ago. He didn’t win two straight tournaments, but he did win two straight tournaments that he entered, so it felt about the same. He won the Hope, took a week off and then won at Doral. And just like that, he was the Kenny Perry of 2001. Well, sort of. He was a little younger (36) than Perry is now but every bit as nondescript.

It’s not that common, you know, winning two weeks in a row — unless you’re Tiger Woods. And the players who do it are as likely to be from golf’s middle and lower classes as from its upper crust. Yeah, Ernie Els (1997, 2003), David Duval (‘97, ‘99), Nick Price (‘93), Vijay Singh (‘98) and Mark O’Meara (‘97) have pulled it off, but so have Perry, Durant, Rich Beem (‘02), Notah Begay (‘00), Peter Jacobsen (‘95) and David Frost (‘93). Beem and Singh won the same tournaments — the International, followed by the PGA Championship

“Boy, you make a lot of money in a hurry [winning twice in two weeks], don’t you?” Beem said yesterday after putting up a 67 in the first round. “It’s just a lot of fun. Every time you hit a shot, it looks like it’s going in, and every time you putt, it looks like it’s going in. Playing that well doesn’t suck — and you get so many good breaks, it’s unbelievable. I was kinda glad to find out Kenny wasn’t playing this week, because we might have all been in trouble.”

Golf is such a “freaky” game, as Durant puts it. Like Perry, Beem missed the cut the week before starting his streak. So did Jacobsen in ‘95. Els got axed at Avenel in ‘97, then proceeded to win the U.S. Open across the street at Congressional — and the Buick Classic a week later. That same year, Duval missed two straight cuts not long before winning back-to-back.

So if you’re trying to predict who might be ready to bust loose on the PGA Tour, check out the list of guys in the last event who didn’t make it to the weekend. The next Kenny Perry might be among them.

Perry’s surprise success is enough to lift the spirits of any veteran pro. After all, if he can do it — after so many years of plodding along (and occasionally being confused with Chris Perry) — why not them?

“You’re only as young as you think you are,” Durant said. “Look at Jay Haas. He’s hitting the ball as well as he has in a long time [and, at 49, is 10th on the money list]. … Me, I just try not to look too far ahead. I just look forward to playing in the next tournament.”

Durant might be ready to go on a little run himself. He played solidly his last two times out (tying for 11th in the Wachovia Championship and shooting 70-70-71-69 at Colonial) and finished in the top 10 at Avenel in ‘98. His 69 yesterday puts him in good stead, just three strokes behind leader Robert Gamez. If he’s close on Sunday, watch out. His stroke average in the fourth round this year is 68.88, eighth best on the Tour.

Should he prevail here, though, don’t expect him to double his pleasure next week in the U.S. Open. For the Joe Durants and Kenny Perrys of the golf world, such strange occurrences — scientists think they might be caused by sunspots — come along only once in life. If that often.

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