Now it's really my pleasure to introduce our defending champion Kenny Perry. I have to get all these facts right so I'm going to make sure I read them. Kenny is a 14-time winner on the PGA TOUR, and he holds the record for the lowest 72-hole score of 258 here at the TPC River Highlands, which he carded last year on his way to victory.
Kenny has posted really multiple wins in 2009 for the fourth time in his career en route to a 9th place finish in the FedExCup standings. Kenny was also named to the U.S. Presidents Cup team for the fourth time, which is just a tremendous honor and well-deserved and well-earned, and was named the 2009 Payne Stewart Award winner, which was great, too. Congratulations, Kenny.
When he's not golfing, you might find Kenny working at Country Creek, which is a public golf course that he built in his hometown of Franklin, Kentucky. Ty Votaw told a story about that this morning. I've got to tell you, it brings tears to your eyes to think that you give back that much to your community and you feel that passionately about it. So we're glad to have you here.
Chris Berman is going to join Kenny today for the press conference, and Chris really needs no introduction. Chris has been on-air with ESPN since the station was founded in 1979. He's been named the National Sportscaster of the Year six times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He's been a great supporter of our event here as you know, and his energy and his guidance has been so important to us about growing the circle around New England.
So welcome, Kenny, welcome, Chris.
CHRIS BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to Connecticut. There's something about home cooking that's paid off not just in name on cup, but it's paid off -- you've played well here, you like coming here. Tell us how that all got started, staying with the same folks in Wethersfield, right?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, it's hard to believe this is my 24th year on TOUR. That's hard to believe. It's gone by so fast. But back in 1986 when I got my card, I didn't have a lot of money, got kids, so I was looking for private housing. So when I came to the tournament, Ted May, I guess it was Ted or somebody, they hooked me up with the Kirsches. Their youngest daughter was three months old at the time I showed up, and now she's graduated college. Their three older ones, they've all had kids. They've got grandkids now. So it's been a great relationship. They're definitely part of my family now.
I'm actually going to have Steve caddie for me this year in the tournament. He may die on me in about -- I don't know what hole, if he can make it or not carrying that bag. But there's a lot of great memories here. You know, it's pretty ironic; last year -- I had set some pretty good goals in '08 to make the Ryder Cup team. But in my 24 years on TOUR I had two places I really wanted to win; one was here at the Travelers, and one was in Phoenix, the Waste Management. You know what, I did them both last year.
It was pretty neat how here I am at 49 years old doing things you're probably not supposed to be able to do, and I was able to knock out -- to make the Ryder Cup in '08 and then win these two tournaments in '09. I pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to on TOUR.
CHRIS BERMAN: Same meal, always the night before, Saturday night, or anything changed, same room, same bedroom.
KENNY PERRY: You know, they cook out, we've got steaks. We always play poker at night. They always get my money. And for some reason, I don't know how it got started, they always get me Fig Newtons, and I hate Fig Newtons. I guess that's just part of the ritual.
CHRIS BERMAN: So you set goals this year. Obviously a major is every goal. You were so close at The Masters a year ago. What's this year's goal at 49? I'm not going to August 11th yet.
KENNY PERRY: Well, great question. I turn 50 in August, so I've got four more years' exemptions on the regular TOUR, so you'll see me the next four years on the PGA TOUR, and you'll probably see me kind of bouncing -- I'll play a few Champions Tour events here and there to see what it's like out there.
But yeah, I've been struggling with goals this year. It's been a great question. I had my goals in '08, I had my goals in '09, and then I lost my mother in October, and that's been tough. So I've kind of brought -- I've gotten closer to my family. My son has been caddying for me since October of last year. And I'm trying to bring my family closer to me.
It's not all been about golf here these past -- my dad is 86 and he's struggling a little bit. So I've kind of turned my focus more towards my family, and I've kind of pushed my golf aside a little bit and it's shown.
I've played very poorly this year. I've struggled -- a gentleman gave me this putter I've been using. It's a Ping Craz-E. It's just an old putter he gave me four years ago, and I've just putted magical with this putter, and five minutes before my tee time at Kapalua this year, I hit a 30-footer, I just hit a 30-foot putt, and I looked down and the head had spun 360 degrees on the shaft.
In a Ping Craz-E, they've got a ball bearing down in the hosel, and the shaft goes over the ball bearing and it holds the shaft in on the putter. And what had happened, the putter had rusted from the inside out, and it snapped around the ball bearing.
I've had it reshafted twice, and my first thought when that happened, I thought, this is going to be a tough year.
And I've just had a lot of crazy things happen. I'm not adjusted very well to the V-groove rules. I had played that set of irons for four years that I used that I won here with last year. All my equipment, wedges, putter, everything I had used for four years, I hadn't changed anything. And now it's a complete new bag with the V-groove rule, a new putter.
I've had elbow issues. I went and saw Dr. Andrews down in Birmingham, Alabama, about my elbow. And I'm just getting old. The old machine is breaking down here a little bit. Things have happened.
But I've tired a trainer a week ago, so we're going to -- we've got a new goal, a new focus. We're going to lose some weight and we're going to try to get stronger and we're going to try to get the fire back and be competitive again out here on the PGA TOUR.
CHRIS BERMAN: Let me just say this, though: 14 wins, 11 of them came in his 40s. So there's hope for most of us, although some of us are past that already. Why? Why have you been a smarter player? Why?
KENNY PERRY: Well, I think it was a combination of a lot of things. You know, I always struggled with the family issue. I have three kids, and in the '90s and in the '80s my kids were young, growing up, and they were calling me on the phone, Dad, I want you home, come on home, we miss you. That really tore at me. That was really tough back then. Well, my oldest is married now; my son is caddying for me; and my youngest daughter is going to graduate from SMU here in May, so Sandy and I have been empty nesters.
We actually kind of fell in love again. We've just kind of been honeymooning I've been saying because for our 28 years of marriage, I told her I've only known her for 14 because she was home raising the kids while I was out here trying to make a living.
And I think what's all that kind of -- my kids are doing great, and when I got into my 40s, I kind of refocused; I kind of rededicated myself to golf and to what I love and my passion, and it showed. I didn't really have the financial issues that I was worried about, the college, and we had all that lined out and we had everything going great. Shoot, I just started hitting that golf ball on the range. I started practicing really hard; I started getting really focused to see what I could do. And you know what, magic happened. I started winning, and it came in bunches.
I mean, I think Vijay is the only other guy who's won more than me in the 40s, and so I've been very fortunate to keep my game together as long as I have. I mean, the last ten years have been unbelievable.
This year has been a horrible year and I've really struggled. So you know what, I can be very thankful that I've been able to maintain that for as long as I have.
CHRIS BERMAN: Do you wake up on a day like -- we'll have some questions later, but let's go back to last June. You shoot a 61 on the first day. Now, come on, first of all. Do you wake up or hit a couple balls on the range and go, boy, I don't know what the score is going to be? And a 63 on the last day in which you let nobody get close. Every time someone might make a run, Paul Goydos or whatever, you're six feet and make the putt. Do you know? Do you know this should be a pretty good day?
KENNY PERRY: No, I never have. It seems like every time I've ever said, this is the day, or I'm going to make it happen today, I play very poorly. I put too much pressure on myself. It seems like when I'm able to just kind of what I call point and shoot, relax, enjoy the whole process, it kind of all comes together. I don't get ahead of myself.
That happened at Augusta. Y'all watched that happen. To be two ahead with two to go to win the Masters, and I got ahead of myself there. I said, all I've got to do is make two pars to win the Masters. I didn't think that here. That was actually a great learning process for me when I came here. I came to the 71st hole here thinking -- I didn't think, I've got to make two pars to win. I birdied 17 here, the 71st hole. I hit a beautiful 3-iron and 7-iron in there eight feet, ten feet below the hole, was able to knock it in and give myself a pretty good cushion to win the golf tournament.
I had the pedal to the metal. I was going to make birdies. I was going to try to make as many as I could and play as smart as I could. My thought at Augusta was conservatively aggressive. That was kind of my word for the week. I kind of continued that on through the rest of the year when I came here.
You know, this is not one of the longer courses on TOUR, and I just love it. I've seen the evolution of this whole tournament. I remember when was it the Sammy Davis and Canon, and I've seen all the sponsors come in. I remember the 18th, the amphitheater of all the thousands of people. This is one of the tournaments that had one of the greatest galleries of all time. That finishing hole is unbelievable, and it's coming back, thanks to Travelers.
Andy, I thank you. I thank you for what I love and for you coming in here and bringing this tournament back. It's coming back now, and I see the excitement here, and it makes me feel good.
So you know, it's just been a special place. And I remember the old course, and I loved it. And the new course now, now with the new driving range, the facilities here are top-notch; they're one of the best we have on TOUR. So the sky's the limit here. I look forward to coming back as long as they'll have me.
CHRIS BERMAN: I like your chances. Majors are still going to come, but look, we've been around almost 60 years. You say this is one of your goals not only the friendship and the field, but look at the names on the Cup. They're all on there, Palmer, Snead.
KENNY PERRY: I did; it just blows me away. Yeah, all the great names of all that have ever played the game are on this trophy.
CHRIS BERMAN: And you're on it, so what does that mean to you?
KENNY PERRY: It just means I got lucky one week.
No, it's very special. I mean, to be able to kind of hang onto their coattails, their shirttails and be associated with them a little bit, our past, our great players who -- I'll never forget Arnie; he was my Presidents Cup captain, and he came up and gave me a big hug, and he looked at me, and his words of advice -- he said, I want to give you some advice; protect the game. That's all he told me.
And at the time I never understood what he meant by "protect the game." And as I've gotten older and gotten older and gotten older, I understand what he means. I look at these young kids, how they act sometimes and what they do and what they say. You know, they were such a professional back then. They made the game. They made it what it is, and they expect us to carry on with the tradition and the history of the TOUR.
You look at all the great names on this cup, and to be part of it, it's part of my responsibility to teach the kids and to tell them how they need to be acting and what they need to be doing.
CHRIS BERMAN: Andy mentioned the Payne Stewart Award. That award, in case you haven't seen it, yes, it's for someone who loves golf but who protects the game, who gives back, who gets it. What does that mean to you to be there with that?
KENNY PERRY: I was honored I was even mentioned to be on that ballot, and then when Commissioner Finchem came to me on the 6th hole in a practice round at Muirfield and told me I had been selected the recipient of that award, I was blown away. I had to kind of step back and think for a minute there. That list is unbelievable, who's won that. You've got Byron Nelson; you've got Arnie and Jack; you've got all the greats that have ever played have received that award.
And it just told me the things I'm doing in my life are right, are correct, the way I'm thinking, my charity with my Christian college there, Lipscomb University, what I give there, the Boys and Girls Club I help and Potter's Children's Orphanage there in Bowling Green I help. I do these things because I love them. These kids have tough -- they don't have good influences in their lives, their parents didn't raise them well, and they've had some problems.
It's neat, we finally broke ground in Franklin. We built a gymnasium and we built a school that started off with about 30 kids, and now there's over 700 kids there where they can come, they can be taught, it's computers, and it's just amazing how this has grown. We've actually outgrown the facility. And we're just a small town of 8,000 people or 10,000. Franklin is just a little bitty town.
It's just amazing, when good people come together. I love the Hole in the Wall Gang stories. That is just tremendous. All those things are dear to my heart. They just told me the Payne Stewart Award, they look at that and they look at the person as a whole. Obviously you've got to play some good golf, but I don't think necessarily you have to -- you've got to do a little something, but I think they look at the person and the man as a whole. It really blew me away.
CHRIS BERMAN: That's quite an accomplishment in addition to everything. Golf is confidence. Big picture, little picture. I want to share a story. I'm sure you go into every event, this is going to be my weekend, it doesn't go well. Bethpage at the Open last year was so bizarre, you guys were warming up at 6:30 at night to play three holes two days in a row, which was bizarre, right?
KENNY PERRY: Yeah.
CHRIS BERMAN: Like the twilight rate. If you pay 20 bucks you can play three holes at Bethpage. I remember it had to be Sunday night, meaning they finished on a Monday, I went over and we talked for a second. I said, why don't you come up the road here next week and win this thing. You've come enough. It's about time. And you wheeled right around like in backswing, which I felt bad about, and you went, "Now you're talking." And you kind of had a -- am I right? You had good vibes on it.
KENNY PERRY: I've always had good vibes coming here. You know, the staff is great here, the tournament is run great. There's just so many great things that happen here that it makes it easy. They make it easy on us. They spoil us to death.
You know, I just have too many great memories here. I've had some disappointments. I'll never forget, y'all remember when I guess it was like Pete Dye, the 17th had the railroad ties in front of the greens, I was tied for the lead, I forget what year it was; it was in the late '80s, I believe. And I had driven it into the left rough over there by the bunker, and I hit this pretty 8-iron going straight at the flag, and I'm thinking, oh, boy, this is it. And it hits right on the boards and it kind of goes up and goes in the water and I end up making double bogey and I end up losing the tournament.
But from that moment on, I thought, I really want to win this tournament. For some reason I felt like I could win here. So that's always kind of been there. I'm kind of a creature of habit; when I win once, I usually win multiple times. I'll tell you what, I've never been able to defend my championship in all my other wins, so this might be the year.
CHRIS BERMAN: We got rid of those Pete Dye railroad ties. They're out of here. One little golf tip, and I ask you this because we played once. So for those of us Champions Tour members who can't quite -- you do something, you said you don't even know what it is. You told me that, I can't believe that. You get here -- and then there's another little move to kind of create the power so you're not out-hit by the 25-year-olds. What do you do?
KENNY PERRY: Well, you know, I have lost that. That's why this year I have lost 10 or 12 yards off my tee ball, and I've seen my swing, and it's not there. What's happened is as I've gotten older I've gotten shorter; my swing has gotten a little shorter, so that's why we're working on a lot of flexibility now to get that little hitch back that -- people cause it a pause, a hitch. I never felt it; I never knew it was there.
When I swing, to me it feels like it's just one continuous motion. You know, in college they called me "lift and smash" or whatever because I'd pick the club up and then I'd hit it. I had a lot of nicknames from that golf swing. It all started in college.
I hurt my neck really bad in college, and I couldn't hardly turn my head, so to get the club back I would lift it up. So it all started in college. You know, kids, we got a little crazy in the hotel room, got to wrestling around a little bit, and a guy put me in a headlock and he hurt me. Anyway, that's how it goes.
I guess I ought to thank him now because my ball-striking has been great over the last 25 years.
CHRIS BERMAN: Well, get it back, won't you.
KENNY PERRY: We're working at it.
CHRIS BERMAN: Questions?
Q. (Question regarding Tom Watson.)
KENNY PERRY: That's amazing. He's had hip replacement surgery. I've talked to Tom quite a bit. You know what, his enthusiasm is back. He's just got -- seems like he's got a passion. He's wanting to prove something for some reason. I don't know why or what's got into him, and his golf swing looks better than ever. He's still got a long, free-flowing golf swing. It looks like he's going to be able to play as long as he wants to.
You know, I think it just depends on the individual in that situation. I mean, you see a lot of great players. I mean, he's kept his weight down. He's in great shape. So he's got a purpose, and he's got a reason why he wants -- that's probably a question you're going to have to ask him.
But I'm kind of in that situation right now. I'm kind of having to work my way back if I want to get back to where I was in '08 and '09.
CHRIS BERMAN: You're just one year younger. You're seeing Fred Couples who's had back -- again, we'd have to ask him, but maybe the goal of I can play on the Champions Tour, and by the way, win every week, he's Rookie of the Year, which is interesting at 50, and then he almost wins the Masters.
KENNY PERRY: Well, you know, success breeds success. It breeds a lot of confidence, and all of a sudden Freddie starts winning, he starts holing a few putts, and the next thing you know, he's all smiles on the range at Augusta. It was funny watching him walk around there. He was on cloud nine. He was strolling in those sneakers with no socks or whatever he was wearing out there. I don't even know if those were golf shoes, what he was playing in.
He made it look easy. He's always made the game look easy, simple. He's just a fun guy to be around, and everybody loves him.
Q. (Question regarding playing on the Champions Tour.)
KENNY PERRY: Well, you know, I'm not exactly sure where -- I'm going to see where I stand in the FedExCup when I turn 50 on August 10th. We start the FedEx, and it's usually in September. If I'm playing like I'm playing right now, you'll see me at the Jeld-Wenn. But if I all of a sudden turn it around and start playing better and see if I can make a Ryder Cup team again this year, you'll see me continue to play on the -- exactly. That's kind of up in the air for right now.
CHRIS BERMAN: We've already decided this is the one you're going to defend at, so there you go. We've answered that question.
Q. (Question regarding Brian Davis' two-stroke penalty in Hilton Head.)
KENNY PERRY: You know what, I would have never have called it on myself because I wouldn't think -- I didn't think he broke a rule. I didn't actually realize that that was a loose impediment because I thought it was -- I would have thought it was attached. But it's pretty awesome. I called a penalty on myself at Augusta this year. Nobody saw it. My ball moved -- it moved about a quarter of an inch, so I had to call a rules official and I had to call a penalty on myself.
That's what's special about our sport and about our game. We all self-manage it, and that's the beauty of our sport. You'd never seen a basketball player or somebody called a foul on himself or whatever. You just wouldn't see that.
That's what I love about our sport, and I thought it was awesome. But I learned something. I didn't realize he broke a -- when I first saw it, I thought, he didn't break a rule there. I learned something. We're always learning. But it was pretty impressive, what he did. It showed a lot of character.
Q. What's your last swing thought before you swing the club at it?
KENNY PERRY: Get it airborne. You know, really, there is no swing thought in my head. I think when you're thinking about the golf shot, you're dead. You're really in trouble. If you've got to think about something to hit the ball -- to me when I play my best golf, I really don't have a lot of thoughts, it's just point and shoot. I'm just kind of looking at the target and I'm aiming at it, and I'm just swinging for all I've got.
Those are the fun tournaments. That's what happened here. Magic happened here for me last year during the Travelers.
Like right now I've got a couple of swing issues that we're working on. I've got a little problem in my golf swing, and I'm really struggling hitting the golf ball because I'm thinking the whole time about my golf swing. It just can't happen.
So I think the less -- you need to think about it when you're on the range. When you get to the golf course you need to figure out how to just play, how to score.
Q. Your standard shot is a draw - do you ever try to fade the golf ball in a tournament?
KENNY PERRY: Not very well. Yeah, and I do do it, but if there's a back right pin, you'll never see me intentionally hit a fade into it unless there's a tree in between me and the flag. I've played one way my whole career, and it's very easy. I've always been able to eliminate one side of the golf course, which most people if you've got a two-way miss, you're in trouble. So I've only got a one-way miss, and it's pretty easy to play golf with a one-way miss.
Q. (Question regarding players playing all tournaments on the PGA TOUR calendar.)
KENNY PERRY: You mean have a player play each event once in three years like they've talked about? I think it's a great idea, I really do. The so-called elite players, they play your majors and your World Golf events, and then a few of their sponsors' events and then you don't see them anywhere else.
If you want to grow the game, you need to -- I remember as a kid when I was playing in the '80s and '90s, I would play 30, 35 events a year. I didn't get in the majors and I didn't get -- we didn't have the world events then, but I played pretty much everywhere I could play and I tried to support all the tournaments. That was important to me. That's probably an individual thing, and I wish the TOUR would make it a little harder stand on that and make the guys support all the events one time.
I think it's a great idea, I really do. It would broaden the game. It would bring interest to your smaller quality events that can't quite -- don't have the purse or the funds to get them in there, and they'll have great galleries. It would bring a lot of awareness to golf, and I think it's very important.
CHRIS BERMAN: You mentioned Arnold Palmer, but growing up did you have a guy -- it could have been him.
KENNY PERRY: My guy was Byron Nelson. Byron Nelson was the coolest guy I've ever met. He would sit like me and you are talking, and what was amazing about that man, he would -- he told me all about his 11-win streak, when he won 11 in a row. He could tell me on his first tournament of the first win, he would tell me what he hit on the 54th hole into the club, what club he hit, and then he'd tell me what his cheese and crackers cost him and his Coke that he ate.
You know, I can't even remember what I hit here last year half the time. I struggle. Here he was 30 years later, and he would send me personal, handwritten notes, little -- saying you played great this week, or I was proud -- great win, whatever. Just a little handwritten note signed by Byron Nelson. I have so many of those. I've got them all collected up.
And then he would call me and ask me if I was coming to play in his tournament. How could you say no to Byron Nelson? I was like, I'll be there, Byron, no problem. I loved Byron Nelson, plus he was a good Christian man. My faith means everything to me, and I loved his morality, his character. That just meant a lot to me.
CHRIS BERMAN: I also should mention that on Wednesday night, the wives last year, the PGA wives, had a big hand in one of our charity events, and Sandy was right up front.
KENNY PERRY: Yeah, my lovely bride, she helps a lot with the Tour Wives Association, and any function that they can do, she's right in the middle of it. I think it's pretty neat. She kind of mentors a lot of the younger wives now, and they have a great program. They raise a lot of money for charities, as well. And it's pretty neat to watch them work.
CHRIS BERMAN: Do you think, Kenny, this course -- I'm not putting anything on -- 258 is 258. So supposing this was ever set up U.S. Open style. The TOUR will never allow them to do it. I know it's short, it's a par 70, I understand, but just this course, which you know and you love, and you won here, supposing they could set up even -- I don't mean the years that they had the seven-inch rough, supposing they did what they do to a U.S. Open, how would this play?
KENNY PERRY: Very difficult. You grow 15- to 18-yard fairways with six-inch rough, I mean, come on. The scores might be just a little bit lower than like a Pebble Beach or Oakmont or whatever because they're a little bit longer. I mean, you can still see the bombing down factor a little bit; guys will start bombing drivers down there as far as they can and then try to hack it out of that rough.
But you get the greens up to 12, 13 on the stimpmeter and then you grow heavier rough, you can do that to any golf course. Firm up the greens, get them to where they're so firm that the golf balls, you've really got to be in the fairway to where you can have a little ball control. It would hang right in there with any of them. That's what I like about it.
CHRIS BERMAN: Then we'll see you here for the 2019 U.S. Open. It hasn't been announced yet, but we'll work on that. We're just playing.
You've got a new trainer, you're confident every week. Where do you go from here? You don't play this week?
KENNY PERRY: I'm off this week, but I'll play Charlotte next week and then THE PLAYERS, and then a week off because my daughter is graduating from SMU, got to go to graduation there in Dallas, and then I'll play -- it leads right into the Byron Nelson and Colonial and Memorial, those three in a row.
I've had a little success -- if I can win Byron I'll have them all, because I've won Jack's, I've won Hogan's and I've won Arnie's. I just need Byron's. That golf course hates me.
CHRIS BERMAN: The Ryder Cup is still a goal of any player. What that was like in your home state two years ago? I know you've told the story, but do you still harken back to that?
KENNY PERRY: All the time. Probably the single greatest experience I've had in golf, period, out of anything I've ever done. It was like playing the 18th hole here, the 72nd hole here on Sunday, but every hole out there was like that hole. That's the intensity that that tournament brought.
You know, there I am in Louisville, Kentucky, in my home state in front of all my friends -- I got what I call a mulligan in life. I don't know if you've ever got a mulligan in life. But back in 1996 I lost the PGA Championship there to Mark Brooks, and everybody criticized me for sitting in the booth with Ken Venturi saying I should have been on the range practicing. It was 110 degrees, it was hot out there, and they all thought I got stiffed, and I said, you're crazy.
But anyway, I hacked it all up on the last hole, and that's what everybody kind of remembered me for in my home state of Kentucky is how I blew the PGA. Well, I got my goal; I got to be able to be on Paul Azinger's -- Paul Azinger was a magical captain. Got to go back to my home state and played great.
On the 6th hole on Sunday I was playing Henrik Stenson, all right, and Henrik, he's one of the best players in the world, and he's one of the best match play players. He even won the Match Play event. I knew I had my hands full. I had birdied four of the first five, and the 5th hole I made a 30-footer for par, and he stood up on the 7th tee, and he looked at had he, and he said, "You're going to make this hard on me today, aren't you?" I'll never forget that.
I busted out laughing. I said, "Henrik, it's nothing personal, but I'm coming after you today, buddy." I ended up closing him out on 16. I won 3 & 2.
And I'll never forget it, my dad, y'all saw him in his bib overalls. Here's a man that worked for a life and casualty forever and then it was American General, and he was an insurance man his whole life, pretty funny how this all happens, and here he is, and once he quit wearing a suit and tie, he's never put one on since. And he put his bib overalls on, and there he comes strolling up on the green, he's got his cigars in his front pocket here, and gave me the biggest hug and told me that's one of the greatest gifts I could have ever given him. For a father and son that was pretty special.
You know, just the whole week was unbelievable, how the team came together. We went to a pep rally downtown Louisville. That was incredible. It was just a fun week. Everything we did was right.
Paul Azinger had a great -- I don't know if y'all have heard this. He put us in pods, what he called pods. He took a Navy Seal manual and he personally profiled each one of us. He had a red light, a yellow light and a green light situation, where like Phil and Tiger Woods were two red lights. He would never pair those two together he said. What he did, he gave ownership to one member of each pod, and it was me and Boo Weekley, J.B. Holmes, and I don't know how Jim Furyk got in our pod. We were the redneck group. I don't know how he got in there, but we taught Jimmy some new language.
But anyway, before, Paul was calling me a lot and texting me, he says, who would you like as a captain's pick in your pod? And I said, I want J.B. Holmes. I said, one, he's a fellow Kentuckian and that would just really boost Kentucky, and two, he's an incredible match play player and he hits it so stinkin' far it just intimidates the heck out of everybody else. So it was pretty cool. I got J.B. Holmes in my pod.
And then Phil was the leader of his group, and it was pretty neat how he put -- Paul's goal was that you could take four golf balls in each pod, throw them up in the air and however they came out, the two closest together, those two players would be very successful on what they did. He said we're going to prepare hard and we're going to go out and have a lot of fun.
Paul did an unbelievable job. I was really impressed with how he handled us and how he got us to come together as a team. Golf is such an individual sport, it's neat to be kind of a part of a team for once. It makes everything so different.
CHRIS BERMAN: So you converted Furyk a little.
KENNY PERRY: I did. You see he's won twice this year, so he learned something.
CHRIS BERMAN: Last year at this time, who was sitting here? Who was defending champ last year? Stewart Cink.
KENNY PERRY: Stewart Cink, my buddy.
CHRIS BERMAN: Well, he sat here in April and won the British Open. So _
KENNY PERRY: I think the like way you're thinking.
CHRIS BERMAN: That's exactly what you said at Bethpage, I like the way you're thinking. We like the way you're thinking. There have been almost 60 names on this thing, and there are very few that resonate like yours, and you know the names on there. So we mean that from everybody here. You're a great camp and you've been a supporter when we were big, not so big, always had a big heart, and everyone roots for you. Welcome home. Kenny
Perry, your defending champion.