Wednesday , January 14, 2015

Nine Questions With PGA Tour Player Pat Perez

Pat Perez is preparing for his fourteenth consecutive season on the PGA Tour and is in Hawai’i for this week’s Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.

As Perez prepares for his first event of the year, he took some time out of his practice round on Tuesday to bring us up to speed and to share some thoughts:

SO, TELL US WHAT YOU’VE BEEN UP TO THIS SHORT OFF-SEASON?

PP: “Planning a wedding—got married December 31st in Scottsdale. I also bought a new house up in Payson (Arizona) that I was trying to get furnished so we can head up there in May.

I plan to be up there for the summer,s getting out of that Scottsdale heat, as it’s a great place to relax, play some golf and decompress. I’m at The Rim, have my own little range and the house backs up to the course. Ideal for practice and putting in work. 

But yeah, outside of that, didn’t too much outside of planning a wedding and working on my game. Ready for the west coast swing, too as this is my favorite stretch of the season.”

REGARDING YOUR NEW COACH DREW STECKEL, WHEN DID YOU START WORKING WITH HIM AND WHAT SPECIFICALLY ARE YOU GUYS WORKING ON?

PP: “I started working with Drew after I missed the cut in Vegas (Shriners Hospital for Children Open). I worked on the range a few hours that Friday afternoon and went back out to TPC Summerlin first thing that Saturday, where I hit balls until dusk. That’s when Drew and I started getting busy.

The main thing for me was my alignment—like today specifically, we worked on my alignment (at Waialae). I tend to aim too far right, which my body doesn’t have to work counterproductive to try and hit it left—and it’s just not correct. Because of that I have to aim a lot further left just to swing right and it’s working. I was hitting it fantastic today an I’m happy with that.

Regarding what we’re working on, there are four points; alignment, wrist angles, follow-through motion and balance—but it all starts with alignment. That’s what we’ve been working on most the last couple days here in Hawai’i.

Drew is fantastic. Calm and cool and he really knows what he’s talking about.”

YOU GOT OFF TO SUCH A BLAZING STARTON THE WEST COAST LAST YEAR. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO REPLICATE SOMETHING LIKE THAT AGAIN THIS YEAR?

PP: “I had easy thoughts last year—some easy thoughts on my swing—and I just rode the wave. I also putted really well and am finally starting to really putt well now, which should help me on the west coast again. I just have to hit it in play and make some putts and if so, I think it’ll carry me again.”

YOU’RE ONE OF FEW GUYS WHO PLAYS EVERY WEST COAST EVENT. WHAT IS THE REASONING BEHIND THAT SIX-WEEK STRETCH WITH NO BREAKS?

PP: “Hawai’i is always a no-brainer and a great start—getting out of the cold in Scottsdale. It’s great to come over here and I really love the course at Waialae. From there we go to La Quinta, where I won the Hope (now the Humana) a few years back and again, I love that venue. I’ve been playing out in the desert there going on 25 years, so that one is always a must.

We used to have Torrey (Farmers Insurance) after that—another home event—but now it’s Phoenix this year and I’m home for that event, which I love. Now after that is Torrey, where I grew up, making it another no-brainer for me. Friends and family out there and always an all-around great week.

The Pebble Beach event, I always play with my partner Michael Lund and have a great time with him—and again, how can you pass up on Pebble? The whole event, the scenery, the history and nostalgia of the event—it’s incredible—and then after that, L.A. and Riviera, which is one of the most iconic courses in America.

The main thing for me; it’s real easy travel—each flight is about an hour, tops and I can drive to a couple events. I’ve also got friends and family coming out to pretty much every event—it makes it such an easy stretch for me. Also, right in the middle of that six-week stretch, I get a week at home for Phoenix so I’m really only on the road for about three weeks max during that swing.”

REGARDING THE WEST COAST SWING, WHAT’S YOU’RE FAVORITE TRACK AND WHICH EVENT IS YOUR ALL-AROUND FAVORITE?

PP: “Torrey Pines, by far—the course and the event—the Farmers Open. An absolute no-brainer. Growing up in San Diego, playing Torrey every day, working the range, picking balls, working the cart barn, having friends and family there—it’s my ultimate tournament.

If I only won one more tournament the rest of my career, that would be the one for me. Most guys out here will rattle off majors, but Torrey would be it for me. I had a real shot last year, finishing second … but winning there—my hometown of San Diego—would just be amazing.”

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DEFINITION OF A SUCCESSFUL 2015 SEASON?

PP: “Success would be winning at least once, as well as playing on the President’s Cup team this year. This is year number fourteen out here and I’m knocking on the door of 40. Lots of goals and things to accomplish and it all starts this week.”

AS A SCOTTSDALE RESIDENT, ANY THOUGHTS ON TIGER WOODS PLAYING THIS YEAR’S PHOENIX OPEN AND WHAT HIS PRESENCE WOULD BRING TO THAT ALREADY-ROWDY EVENT?

PP: “Tiger coming there (to the Phoenix Open) … I really don’t know what his reasons are. I think he’s going to try and play a little more this year, because he hasn’t really played a ton over the past five seasons. That rowdy crowd out there—I don’t know how he’s going to take it. He hasn’t seen anything like that in a long time. It’s going to be like a Ryder Cup on steroids.

Honestly though, there are so many people out there anyways that his coming out there—it’s still not going to take the focus off any other players on No. 16. I don’t really know how much more buzz it’s going to bring to the event as the tournament is already sold out every year and the Thunderbirds do a great job promoting the whole deal.

All that said, I do think it’s cool that at this point he wants to come back out and play an event like that—showing some support for another tournament.”

ANYTHING NEW ON THE IPOD RIGHT NOW? WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY LISTENING TO?

PP: “Waiting on the new Marilyn Manson next week and the new D’Angelo record is pretty solid. Social Distortion, The Cult, Metallica, (Iron) Maiden—they always get some play. 

Outside of that, it’s been all 80′s lately. I beat up that Pandora station pretty good and the iPod has a pretty nasty old-school playlist with all the hits from that era.

Had the 80′s pumping strong wedding week as it was good, universal music that everyone was getting into. We had it all going. MJ, Madonna, Billy Ocean, Billy Idol, Hall & Oates, Tears For Fears, Journey—even got ‘Don’t Change’ (INXS), ‘Careless Whisper’ (Wham) and ‘Easy Lover’ (Phil Collins & Phillip Bailey) some play at the reception, which played well. 

Timeless stuff and always works in a pinch. Always.”

LASTLY, WE KNOW YOU’RE A DIEHARD CHARGERS FAN, BUT GIVE US YOUR NFL PLAYOFF PICKS FOR THIS WEEKEND—SEATTLE OR GREEN BAY AND INDIANAPOLIS OR NEW ENGLAND?  

PP: “I’m pulling for the underdogs and road teams in this one—the Packers and the Colts. That said, I’d also like to see Green Bay take on New England as it’d be something special to watch Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady having a go at it in the Super Bowl.  

You really can’t lose, though. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are the future and the now. All four quarterbacks and all four teams are legit. 

Have to think Seattle gets it done at home, but Indy might be able to pull the upset at Foxboro. We’ll see.

I hope I miss both games because I’m going late Hawai’i time on Sunday and making a run at Waialae.”  

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