Pat Perez is healthy, playing great golf and repping Bill Murray clothing line
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Comeback stories in golf are as common as blisters. Injury. Illness. Personal travails. Swing changes. Shattered confidence. The game’s comeback trail is more congested than the I-5 in Los Angeles. In fact, a former No. 1 player in the world has just embarked on his latest one, in case you hadn’t heard.
Pat Perez will be watching with interest to see what Tiger Woods can do in the coming weeks. Can he win in his third start after such a long layoff? It can be done. It has been done. Recently.
After seven months on the shelf following surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Perez returned to competitive golf in October at the CIMB Classic. Two events later, he shot 21 under par, including a third-round 62, to capture the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. The victory in Mexico was his first in nearly eight years – but just his second in 379 career starts.
This wasn’t so much a return as a reincarnation. The fiery, fast-talking Phoenix native is a paradox with his friendliness off the course and fast-twitch temper on it. He is an honest and effusive interview subject when he’s not muttering to himself, which has been often in his 15 years on the PGA Tour. He called himself “sort of a punk” and a “late maturer.” The tour once advised him to seek anger management therapy.
But at El Camaleon GC, Perez played with intelligent aggressiveness as well as a measure of patience. He was calm and collected. And, finally, a winner again.
“I learned a lot about myself in the time away,” Perez said, his long jet black hair pouring out from under his cap. “I needed the break. I used this as a mid-career break. It gave me time to think about what I wanted to do when I came back. What do I want to work on? How do I want to play? How do I want to attack?
“You have nothing to do but sit around all day and think.”
And worry. And fill the unforgiving hours with caloric intake.
“Booze. A lot of booze. A lot of food. A lot of everything,” Perez said with a thin smile when asked how he coped while away from the tour. “Not from depression, just nothing else to do.”
Perez, who turns 41 in March, has plenty to do now, thanks to his breakthrough in…