PGA Tour star Pat Perez worked his tail off to get where he is today. The road to stardom certainly did not happen overnight for this four-year veteran. If anything, this journey began when he picked up his first club as a 3-year-old and will continue until he tops that leader board consistently. A born perfectionist and competitor, Perez has that hunger to win — and win often.
Sacrifice, dedication and hard work were the recipe for his success. That along with a boatload of confidence that stems from a healthy dose of personal faith. Perez rolled the dice and left the game for a short while in the late '90s, getting a job as there were bills to pay and not enough time to dedicate to the game he loved. He did so knowing he'd be back — and within a year, he was.
Perez fought through the adversity, made his breaks and a few years later found himself in the most elite of elite groups; a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour.
I know all this because I'm fortunate enough to have witnessed the inspirational journey first-hand. I've known 'Double P' almost ten years now. After his stint at Arizona State, we were roommates in San Diego for three years and remain the closest of friends.
I witnessed his life on the road during the Buy.com years (now called the Nationwide Tour.) I saw him grind it out in even smaller tournaments — doing all he could to play the game he loves for a living. Driving from San Diego to Vancouver for a Canadian Tour event, only to drive home a day later and hop a flight across the country because he learned he had conditional status in a Buy.com tourney.
Pardon the pun, but stories and situations like that were par for the course as Perez did everything in his power to earn a spot on the PGA Tour.
Every smaller tournament was a stepping-stone to the main stage. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to the big show. This kid has always had the fire and is primed for a breakout season in 2006. Bank on it.
Over the past four years, the rest has become history.
In December 2001, Perez was the medalist at Q-school and he earned his PGA Tour card — beating out hundreds of other determined players. Since then, thirteen top ten finishes — seven of those in the top five and a two-time runner up. Most impressive last season was a tie for sixth at the PGA Championship — a Major which Perez had a legitimate shot at winning down the stretch.
I sat down with Double P to discuss his goals heading into his fifth season on the PGA Tour, his rededication to fitness, his generous heart regarding up-and-coming players on smaller tours, as well as which off season Major League Baseball buddies have the least game on the course.
ASM: Tell me a little bit about Q-school in 2000 versus 2001. I recall your disappointment after third stage in 2000 and you vowing to earn your card the next year.
Perez: As crazy as it sounds, I literally visualized it happening. I think I finished somewhere around 26th on the Buy.com Tour in 2001 with conditional status. Only the top fifteen get their PGA Tour card, so I was exempt from first stage and headed up to Seaside (up near Pebble Beach) for second stage. I played Blackhorse and finished second there. A week later I headed down to West Palm Beach with my coach, Mike Owen. Within a week, I was the Medalist and finally had my card. 2000 was a disappointment, because I came so close and really expected to get it done that year, but fell short. I won the 2000 Ozarks Open (Buy.com Tour) and was mentally prepared to get my card going into 2001. When I didn't, I put it in my head that I'd be on the PGA Tour in 2002 and never looked back. I didn't want to grind it out on the Buy.com Tour again. I was ready for the next level.