Pat Perez claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the 50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer, in La Quinta California with a three-stroke victory over John Merrick.
The 32-year-old started like a train in the 90-hole event setting a 36-hole PGA Tour scoring record after opening rounds of 61 and 63. But scintillating rounds of 61 and 62 on days three and four by Steve Stricker, meant Perez trailed by three shots going into the final round.
Perez came out of the blocks fast in a windy final round with three birdies in a row from the second, but all that good work was undone with a double bogey at the 5th then a bogey at the 7th. He steadied the ship, however, and played the remaining holes in three under par. His score was aided by a fantastic eagle three at the closing hole where he bravely went for the green in two. “I don’t lay up,” Perez said. “I hit a 6-iron. I mean, how hard is it? I’m not going to lay up with a wedge over here and hit a wedge over there. It’s a 6-iron. I was going to hit it.”
Perez played some solid golf but Steve Stricker should have had the tournament sewn up. When he birdied the 6th hole he moved to -34 and opened a three-stroke lead. But he then had a triple bogey on the 7th and a quadruple bogey on the 10th, hitting into the water on both holes. “It was hard for me to feel comfortable with anything, and it showed for me a couple of times today.” He said.
John Merrick played a fine final round of 67 to lift himself into second place – his best ever finish on the PGA Tour. Merrick was helped by an amazing piece of luck on the 16th. His approach was headed for the ditch next to the green but his ball hit its concrete lining, bounced into the air and onto the green ending just 10-feet from the hole.
50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer
PGA West, California
Jan 21-25, purse $5,100,000, par 72
1 Pat Perez (USA) 61 63 67 67 69 327 $918,000
2 John Merrick (USA) 68 65 67 63 67 330 $550,800
T3 Steve Stricker (USA) 65 67 61 62 77 332 $295,800
T3 Mike Weir (Can) 62 70 67 66 67 332 $295,800
T5 Stephen Ames (Can) 71 63 70 66 63 333 $179,138
T5 Tim Clark (RSA) 66 69 63 66 69 333 $179,138
T5 Webb Simpson (USA) 68 66 64 66 69 333 $179,138
T5 Bo Van Pelt (USA) 66 65 68 67 67 333 $179,138
Note: Players in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only