Golf Roundup

Perez calmly wins 1st

Stricker scuffles, finds Hope is lost

Associated Press / January 26, 2009
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Remaining calm despite the swirling wind and a tense duel for the lead, Pat Perez finally got his first PGA Tour victory - with a lot of help from Steve Stricker.

Perez won the Bob Hope Classic yesterday in La Quinta, Calif., taking advantage of Stricker's collapse. The winner shot a 3-under-par 69 for a 33-under 327 total in the five-day event.

John Merrick, who began the day eight shots behind Stricker but moved in front briefly on the back nine, shot a 67 to finish second, three shots back.

"I just tried to stay pretty even-keeled," Perez said. "I figured if I could just play solid and hit some good shots and kind of stay calm and think about what I'm doing out there, I was going to be fine."

In the past, "calm" wasn't necessarily a word used about Perez and his play. He seemed quick to anger and grow frustrated when he wasn't playing well.

"I just got tired of getting upset all the time," the 32-year-old Perez said. "It's a lot of energy. I learned how the best guys do it."

Mentioning Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and Ernie Els, among others, Perez said, "All these guys are pretty even-keeled. They don't let things bother them. They put stuff behind them. Before, if I made a double on five, the tournament was over. I look at that as a speed bump now."

After hitting into the water and dropping to 29 under on the fifth hole, Perez steadied and still made the turn at 35.

Stricker, 33 under at the start of play, had a 77 to tie for third with Mike Weir (67) at 28 under. Stricker had a triple bogey on No. 7 and a quadruple bogey on No. 10, hitting into the water on both holes.

Perez, playing in the final group, locked up the victory by knocking his approach shot over the water from 200 yards on No. 18 to 3 feet to set up an eagle.

Perez, who led the first three days of the 90-hole event before falling three shots off Stricker's pace, had said the ideal conditions made the early rounds "like playing in a dome."

Stricker's troubles then began when his tee shot on the par-4, 434-yard seventh sailed to the right and plopped into the lake along the fairway. His fourth shot on the hole carried far over the green and into the rough, he left his next shot 32 feet from the pin, lagged within a foot and tapped it in for a 7.

Then came the disaster on the par-4, 433-yard 10th hole, when he hit one tee shot out of bounds and another into the water before teeing off for the third time - already his fifth shot. That went into a fairway bunker. It could have been worse; Stricker two-putted from 60 feet to salvage an 8.

LPGA - Catriona Matthew, the 39-year-old Scot five months pregnant with her second child, won the inaugural HSBC Brazil Cup by five shots over Kristy McPherson in Rio De Janeiro.

Matthew had a 3-under 69 on the second day of the 36-hole tournament to finish at 6-under 138.

"When you play well you don't feel tired," Matthew said. "Maybe tomorrow I will feel it a bit."

The unofficial money event featured a 15-player field and a $500,000 purse.

Champions - Bernhard Langer won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Andy Bean in Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii.

Langer, the 2008 player and rookie of the year, had an 18-under 198 total to earn his fifth title on the 50-and-over circuit.

Bean, who had his second straight 66, surged into contention with four birdies in the first 10 holes. His 10-foot birdie try on 18 lipped out.

European - Alvaro Quiros won the Qatar Masters, making five birdies on the back nine to shoot a 3-under 69 for a 19-under 269 and a three-stroke victory in Doha.

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