Perez claims maiden win at Bob Hope
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic | Round Five | 26 Jan 2009
Pat Perez is celebrating his first USPGA Tour victory today following a tight battle over the closing stages of the Bob Hope Classic in Palm Desert.
A brilliant eagle at his final hole, after his second from 198 yards finished 3 feet from the hole, sealed the deal and saw him run out the winner by three over another who was also looking for his first win on the PGA Tour in John Merrick.
Having led the 90 hole event for so much of the journey, Perez will sleep easily tonight having endured the rigours of contention for so long after an opening round of 61.
On a day where strong winds buffeted the Palmer Private layout at PGA West, Perez caught the fourth round leader, Stricker, with three quick birdies on day five. A double bogey at the 5th had him behind again but when Stricker took a triple bogey at the 7th the gap was only one. As the pair made the turn all tied up at 31 under it still appeared as if they were the only two likely to battle for the title but things were about to change dramatically.
Stricker, buffeted by the blustery winds, hit one out of bounds and another other in the water from the tee at the 10th and the resultant quadruple bogey all but destroyed his chances. Others were beginning to emerge as genuine threats to Perez, including Merrick who, when he eagled the par five 11th from 20 feet, had joined Perez in the lead.
Perez has played the PGA Tour since 2002 and has twice been runner up but here was a great opportunity to win. He was up against 26-year-old Merrick who is in his third season on the PGA Tour but clearly without the experience of the 32-year-old Perez.
Merrick still had a chance to win when playing the 17th but by missing the green right and failing to get up and down he opened the door for Perez. Perez bogeyed the 15th and was then tied with Merrick but Merrick’s mistake at 17 and the brilliant eagle at the last by Perez confirmed Perez’s maiden PGA Tour victory.
Mike Weir finished strongly with a final round of 67 to make up a ten shot deficit on third round leader Stricker and eventually shared third with him while noted wind player, Stephen Ames produced a stunning final round of 63 to move from 45th to a share of 5th with Bo Van Pelt, Tim Clark and Webb Simpson.
Simpson was playing just his second USPGA Tour event as a card holder and highlighted just what a standout he is likely to become by recording his second consecutive top ten.
John Senden, who has played this event well in the past was the best of the three Australians to make the cut in a share of 9th although two late bogeys cost him a chance of something much better. Mathew Goggin was 19th and Peter Lonard 60th.
The PGA Tour will now move to Scottsdale in Arizona for this week’s FRB Open.