NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — The only time Kenny Perry felt as if he was grinding while holding a big lead Sunday was on the final hole in the ACE Group Classic. That was when his tee shot went way left, and he was in jeopardy of falling below 20 under. Never mind that he had six shots to play with.
“I really wanted that [final] putt,” said Perry, who won his second Champions Tour title. “I really wanted to shoot 20 under. I didn’t want to fall back to 19 like I did at Colonial one year. I had a seven-stroke lead coming in and I doubled and I went from 21 to 19. I said, ‘I ain’t doing that this week.’ So, I was able to get that putt in. Ecstatic. It’s a great win for me.”
After opening with rounds of 64 and 62 to break the tour’s 36-hole record at 18-under 126, Perry closed with a 2-under 70 on The TwinEagles Club’s Talon Course to beat 2011 winner Bernard Langer by five strokes.
Perry, a 14-time winner on the PGA TOUR, birdied three of his first eight holes, and no one ever got closer than four shots after that.
“He played very, very well,” said Tom Lehman, paired with Perry in the final round. “Two-under par today is a very good score. He was pretty much error-free throughout the day. It was tough to get any pressure on him.”
Langer eagled No. 17 for the third straight day in his 70.
“It was a good week,” Langer said. “I played well, it’s just that Perry ran off with it. He put up a fantastic score (Saturday) and played well again.”
After two calm days resulted in low scores, the wind blew 20 mph with gusts near 30 mph Sunday.
Lehman shot a 72 to match Bill Glasson (68) and Mike Goodes (69) at 14 under.
Lehman was in second for most of the day, but bogeyed No. 12 and bogeyed the par-5 17th after hitting a pitch shot in the water.
First-round leader Larry Mize was tied for second on the last hole, but put two balls in the water and finished with a 75 to drop to seventh at 12 under.
“Much tougher day with the wind,” Mize said. “We had two ideal days to play and today was a tough day.”
Perry tied Allen Doyle’s 1999 tournament mark for the largest margin of victory.
Perry had 24 birdies, two short of the tour record for a 54-hole event. The bogey on the final hole dropped Perry into a tie with Langer for the tournament scoring record that Langer set last year at The Quarry.
Perry earned $240,000. He won the SAS Championship in October a day after his sister died of breast cancer, two years to the day Perry’s mother died from cancer.
Perry won twice in Naples previously — teaming with John Huston in 2005 and Scott Hoch in 2008 at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, an unofficial PGA TOUR event.