Golf / Sports

Rory's the favorite, but can Tiger and Kenny Perry earn 'glory' at PGA Championship?

The marketing gurus no longer call it "Glory's Last Shot." The PGA Championship dropped that moniker before last year's event as a nod to the riches doled out in the FedEx Cup playoffs in September.

But this will be Kenny Perry's last shot for glory at the game's highest level.

After getting a special exemption to enter the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., the 53-year-old Kentuckian said it would be his final major.

In 1996 Perry needed a par at Valhalla's 18th hole to win the PGA. But he bogeyed and lost to Mark Brooks in a playoff.

Perry was so eager to get a final shot at Valhalla he had friends "write letters and chew on the ears" of Ted Bishop, the PGA of America president. Bishop came through with an invitation and Perry said he's incredibly grateful.

"I hope I can play halfway decent and not get too caught up," he said in a telephone interview.

So Perry bears watching, as does another long shot: Tiger Woods.

The clock is ticking on his hopes of qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs -- and perhaps the Ryder Cup in Scotland in late September.

After March 31 back surgery, Woods entered this weekend's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at 215th in the FedEx Cup standings and 70th on the Ryder Cup points list.

Woods would have to win the PGA Championship to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Otherwise, he could add the Wyndham Championship -- a tournament in which he never has played -- in a last-ditch attempt to make the FedEx Cup.

Jack Nicklaus designed Valhalla -- where Woods won the 2000 PGA in a memorable playoff duel with Bob May -- and the Golden Bear said it affords "ample space to drive the ball." That could help Woods, who seemed as likely to hit a spectator as a fairway during the British Open at Hoylake.

Nicklaus also is bullish on Woods' chances of making the Ryder Cup team as one of Tom Watson's captain's picks.

"I don't care what he does between now and then," Nicklaus said. "If Tiger wants to play, I would certainly choose him. My guess is that Tom feels pretty much the same way."

Nick Faldo is not so sure. The lead golf analyst for CBS Sports told the Tribune: "It's actually a very simple decision, to be honest.

"If he doesn't make the FedEx Cup, you'd say, 'How can I have a guy who is injured and has played (so few) rounds this year?' You'd say that unfortunately he's not match-fit. I think that would be the correct decision.

"If Tiger doesn't play the FedEx Cup and Tom still picks him, I think that's more controversial than if he leaves him out. You have to have fit guys because Europe, on paper, looks very strong."

And no one looks stronger than Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, whose brilliance was on display all week in a two-shot victory at Hoylake.

"When he's on, he's incredible," Faldo said. "What hip speed. When he's off, he loses his timing."

Perry recovered from the disappointment of the '96 PGA to win 11 Tour events from 2001 to '09. He never won a major, losing the 2009 Masters to Angel Cabrera in a playoff, but Perry has been crushing it with the over-50 set. He won three Champions Tour majors in less than 12 months, including a U.S. Senior Open.

"It was a tough loss in '96," Perry said, "but I've done OK since then. It showed me that I know I can (win a major). I just need to stay in the moment and not think about the treasure at the end of the rainbow."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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