Things Don’t Always Have To Be Perfect

Pat Perez shot one of the two low rounds of the day at the Northern Trust Open Friday. The winds and the greens and the course at the Riviera Country Club in LA pretty much befuddled everyone else (except for Jarrod Lyle who shot the other 65).

He began by making a must birdie on the short, par-5 1st hole. At only 503 yards, you can’t let that one get away. Then he went from the cup cake hole to the 5th hardest, the 463-yard, par-4 2nd. And made par. He even parred the robust, 236-yard, par-3 4th. Perhaps his solid start set the stage for the additional two birdies on the 5th and 6th.

And maybe that start on the front nine set up the equally solid back nine that featured a matching 3 birdies, including the one on 18, the hardest hole on the course.

But the thing is, he had no inkling that things were going to turn out that way. In fact, before he even began the round, he told his caddie that he sensed a disaster.

Q.  No one played this course better than you did.  What was working for you so well?

I don’t know.  I wasn’t really all that comfortable out there.  I woke up this morning, didn’t really feel that good, and I told my caddie on the range, I can’t really feel my body.  My body feels weird, I don’t know what’s going on.  I don’t know if it was breakfast or what, but I don’t feel that great.  We’ll see what happens.

I birdied 1 and hit some pretty good shots, didn’t hit it great, I just putted pretty well.  That was about it.

Q.  I’m thinking it’s the smog or something in LA.

Could be.

Q.  Do you have it figured out?

I don’t know.  We’ll see.  I feel good now, but I didn’t really–I hit some good shots and recovered well, which was the main thing.  I just made the putts I had to.

Q.  Talk about 18.  Not too many people birdie that hole.

Yeah, I wasn’t very happy.  I didn’t really hit the driver that good today at all, and I hit it right where I didn’t want to and I drew kind of a decent lie and it was actually a perfect number just to hit a cut 6‑iron and I was trying to get it anywhere up near the green and it came out perfect, nice and high and went right around the tree, 12 feet or whatever it was, and I had a good feeling about that.  I had two of those I missed on 16 and 17, the same distance, and I said I’m going to make this one.  It was good.

Q.  Are you surprised at the number you shot?

Uh‑huh.

Q.  How did you do it?

I have no idea.  I just made enough putts.  I scored well.

But beyond how he felt, nothing he did even looked like he was primed for a 65. He only hit 4 of 14 fairways–a real problem in the entangling Kikuyugrass rough–and he only hit 12 greens. These are the stats of a guy who doesn’t even get interviewed because he couldn’t set himself up to score, let alone shoot the low round of the day.

So the next time you’re on the way to the course for a big match and you didn’t have time for breakfast or even coffee, you didn’t get enough sleep, you feel disassociated from your body and can’t hit any fairways or greens, just remember that none of that matters.

And just as mystifying, at least one world-class player on the PGA Tour doesn’t seem to know what does.

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