Less than two weeks after winning the U.S. Senior Open, his first major in almost two years, Kenny Perry smiled as he talked about his improved putting and relaxed approach entering the Constellation Senior Players Championship.
He hoped his positive vibes a year after contemplating retirement would create a run similar to 2013, when he claimed the U.S. Senior Open and Senior Players Championship to become the PGA Tour Champions Player of the Year.
But after finishing 1-over par Thursday, Perry wasn't content to be nine shots behind leader Larry Mize after the first round at Caves Valley Golf Club.
"You make a few bogeys, and then you feel like you're not going to make any birdies," Perry's caddy, Ryan Cochran, said. "They were pouring them in on us."
Through the first five holes, Perry had thee birdies. Then came the downturn.
He bogeyed the seventh, hitting bunkers on consecutive shots, and the eighth, leaving the ball in the rough behind the green.
A birdie on the 14th returned him to 1-under par, but bogeys on the final two holes continued Perry's rut.
Perry’s groupmates, meanwhile, finished with some of the day’s top performances.
Three-time defending Senior Players Championship winner Bernhard Langer — his streak started the year after Perry’s 2013 triumph — is tied for second at 7-under. Brandt Jobe is one stroke behind Langer.
"It kind of makes the hole [feel] a little smaller," Cochran said, "when your playing partners are making putts."