Born: August 10, 1960
Birthplace: Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Height: 6 ft, 2 in
College: Western Kentucky University
Turned Pro: 1982
Kenny Perry is as good an answer as any to the never-ending question – who is the best player to have never won a Major championship? Along with his Champions tour contemporary Collin Montgomerie, Perry had by almost every measure a phenomenally successful career on the PGA Tour. Ironically, both Perry and Montgomerie have dominated play on the Champions Tour, winning multiple “Senior” Major titles.
Perry played high school golf and went on to play collegiately at Western Kentucky University.
With the support of a couple dozen friends from Kentucky, Perry set out to make a living as a professional golfer. Perry tried but failed to secure a PGA Tour card in his first two attempts at qualifying school. Out of money, and seemingly out of chances, Perry accepted a $5,000 loan from a local businessman who made the loan in exchange for 5% of Perry’s future winnings.
The third time was the charm for Kenny Perry, earning his PGA card by a slim margin of two strokes after six grinding days.
Perry survived some lean times his first few years on tour. In 1987, at the Panasonic Invitational, Perry finished tied for 4th and earned $55,000. He quickly repaid all his original benefactors from Kentucky. Four years later, Perry entered the winner’s circle at the Memorial.
1996 brought Perry’s first close brush with a Major at the PGA Championship in his native Kentucky. Perry bogeyed the 72nd hole and lost in a playoff to Mark Brooks.
Undeterred, Perry continued to string together consistent golf. His career resurged in 2005 when he captured titles at Bay Hill and Colonial. The next season, his play earned him the milestone of becoming only the 10th PGA player to earn $20 million.
Perry also enjoyed extended stints in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings during 2003-2005 and 2009-2010.
He also would make one last run at a Major – the 2009 Masters. Bogeys on 17 and 18 forced Perry into a playoff with Chad Campbell and Angel Cabrera in a playoff that was eventually won by the Argentinian.
With 14 PGA wins, 2 Ryder Cup appearances and over $35 million in earnings, Kenny Perry, despite winning no Majors, will go down as one of the best players of his generation.