Perry - Finally - Wins a Major

Kenny Perry can now remove a big monkey off his back. The 52-year-old Kentuckian finally earned the first major of his otherwise stellar career. Perry closed with a flawless 6-under 64 to finish at 19-under 261 to win the Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh.

After opening with a 71 on Thursday, Perry got red-hot, firing two straight 63s and ending with a 64 to beat Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf by two shots. He secured the triumph with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes.

The breakthrough victory helped Perry erase some bad memories of earlier close calls in majors: the 1996 PGA Championship, the 2009 Masters, and the Senior PGA Championship just last month.

"(The win) means a lot," an emotional Perry said at greenside. "I've come so close so many times. I guess all my past experiences (have helped). Very proud of how I handled it today."

Added Perry of his near-misses: "I thought I was snakebit. I got close so many times and I just seemed to mess up down the homestretch and not make it happen . . . My word (today) was patience. I wasn't going to put any pressure on myself to win the golf tournament because I had so much heartache, so many losses. I was just thinking, 'You know what, I'm tired of worrying about that.' "

Couples hit every fairway in regulation Sunday but didn't get much out of his round. The 53-year-old from Seattle could only card four birdies and two bogeys. "I thought I'd shoot better than 68," said a disappointed Couples at greenside. Entering the final round with a two-shot edge over Perry, Couples was in prime position for his third major title on the Champions Tour.

"Kenny played very well and didn't make the mistakes I did. It was a little bit of a sour day," added Couples.

Finishing tied for fourth at 268 were Michael Allen (65) and first-round leader John Huston (68). Jeff Hart and Morris Hatalsky both recorded 67s to tie for sixth at 270, while another stroke back was Germany's Bernhard Langer (67).

Playing in his first Champions Tour event, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie fired a 65 to end up in ninth at 272 with Australia's Peter Senior (66) and Americans Bill Glasson (66), Corey Pavin (68) and Mark Calcavecchia (70).

Defending champion Joe Daley had a 70 for a T-34 finish at 279.

For Perry, the win was worth $405,000 and double Charles Schwab Cup points, which moved him to the top of the season-long Cup race ahead of South Africa's David Frost, Couples and Langer.

More importantly, the victory was a huge relief for the long-hitting Perry. "I'm hoping the floodgates open," he said in reference to having an easier time winning upcoming majors.

"But I don't know, anytime you get into contention you get nervous, you get antsy. But today I had a peace about me . . . if I can kind of draw upon this the next time I get into the heat of things hopefully I'll finish it off like I did today."

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