Pat Perez claimed his first PGA Tour victory for seven years in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. The 40-year-old finished two clear of fellow American Gary Woodland. Scotland’s Russell Knox was third.
This was only Pat Perez’s third start on the PGA Tour since returning after should surgery earlier this year. He’s made quite a comeback. He was tied for 33rd in the CIMB Classic, tied for 7th in the Shriners last week and now a champion again at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, winning for the first time since the 2009 Bob Hope Classic.
“When you hit 40 and then you have surgery, it’s like `Oh, God, you know, what are we going to do?'” Perez said. “I had sleepless nights, I had a lot of sleepless nights wondering, `What are we going to do? How are we going to do this? What’s going to happen here? What would happen here? Because all you do is sit around and think. That’s all you have time is to sit around. You’re just sitting in a sling doing nothing and you can’t hit balls for five months. I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things.”
Perez put himself right into contention with a superb 62 in the third round and then moved to the top of the leaderboard with five birdies in his first eight holes on Sunday.
The chasing pack quickly found themselves battling for second place and it was Gary Woodland who eventually took that position with birdies at his closing two holes. Scotland’s Russell Knox closed with a 66 to end the week in third place.
3 Talking points from the OHL Classic at Mayakoba
1 – Pat Perez displayed superb grit and determination to close out the victory at Playa del Carmen. After a long recovery period following surgery, the 40-year-old believes he is mentally stronger than before his enforced layoff, with a strengthened will to win.
“I woke up this morning and knew I was going to win,” he said afterwards. “Before I would get near the lead or this and that and go, oh, okay, now what? Got to hit it over here, got to hit it over here. I didn’t play that way today. I stayed on the throttle.
2 – Russell Knox came up just shy of victory for a second straight year in Mexico. Last season he lost out in a playoff to Graeme McDowell, this time out he was third despite a fine 66 in the final round. But the Scot is feeling positive about his current form. This was his third top-10 finish of the new PGA Tour season.
“I’m thrilled, this is my third top-10 in this wraparound year so delighted with that,” he said. “I’m enjoying my golf. I feel like I’m improving each week almost and my putting’s really improving, which was the big weakness. That’s the key link for me.”
Graeme McDowell on judging break:
3 – Kevin Streelman made one of his trademark final round charges. He made nine birdies in a closing round of 65 to move up into a tie for fourth. It was a case of what might have been for the American though. He posted superb scores of 65, 64 and 65 in rounds 1,3 and 4 but struggled to a 73 in round two.
“Great first, third and fourth rounds, just struggled there on Friday, which cost me winning the tournament, but a lot of good stuff,” Streelman said. “Obviously, it’s early in the year and real excited.
OHL Classic at Mayakoba
El Camaleon GC, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Purse $7,000,010, par 71
1 Pat Perez (USA) 68 66 62 67 263 $1,260,002
2 Gary Woodland (USA) 64 65 66 70 265 $756,002
3 Russell Knox (Sco) 68 65 67 66 266 $476,000
T4 Chez Reavie (USA) 70 67 63 67 267 $289,333
T4 Kevin Streelman (USA) 65 73 64 65 267 $289,333
T4 Scott Piercy (USA) 65 66 66 70 267 $289,333
T7 Charles Howell III (USA) 69 64 69 66 268 $218,117
T7 Chris Kirk (USA) 63 70 68 67 268 $218,117
T7 Luke List (USA) 66 68 66 68 268 $218,117
T10 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 68 69 66 67 270 $175,000
T10 Adam Hadwin (Can) 67 66 70 67 270 $175,000
T10 Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 69 67 65 69 270 $175,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage