Last year win in the CIMB Classic, I was in total control of my game, recalls Perez in a recent Q&A
By Courtesy of the PGA TOUR
American Pat Perez returns to Malaysia to defend the title he won at the US$7 million (RM28.7 million) CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur (TPC KL) last year.
In this question and answer (Q&A), he talks about that win, his overall performance in his 2017-2018 PGA TOUR season and also about fatherhood, after he and wife Ashley welcomed their daughter, Piper, last month.
Q: What do you remember most from last year’s win at the CIMB Classic and how special was it?
Perez: I recall playing extremely well at TPC KL and I was in total control of my game. The course suits my style of play and I just played beautifully.
I’m looking forward to defending my title, especially when I’ve heard the course has been upgraded this year with new grasses on the fairways and greens. Looking back, it was really special for me to win the CIMB Classic, as it put the exclamation point to a great 2017.
As you know, I had my shoulder surgery in 2016 and then I received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the tournament later that year and while I didn’t win then, it gave me the confidence that I needed in my comeback and I subsequently won in Mayakoba (the only PGA TOUR tournament held in Mexico).
If I had not received the invitation from Malaysia, who knows, I may not have played in Mayakoba.
Q: What have you enjoyed about Malaysia in the last few years and will this year be different coming back as defending champion?
Perez: The city is such a cool place and staying at the Westin hotel, which is right in the city, is a lot of fun.
I enjoy the food and the culture in KL and it’s a wonderful destination. One of the best things we experience is the police outriders, which make it easier for us to get to TPC KL, a great golf facility.
I’m looking forward to defending my title and seeing my fans there again. It’s going to be a great field, which will mean winning it a second time will be even better.
Q: What is it about TPC KL that suits your game and how much are you looking forward to playing on the newly upgraded West course?
Perez: As golfers, sometimes you just like a golf course the minute you set eyes on it. TPC KL is one of those golf courses where I feel comfortable standing on the tee boxes and seeing what’s in front of me.
I’ve also adapted really well on the greens and rolled in a bunch of putts to win last year.
However, it’s going to be interesting for all of us, as we will play on the upgraded course for the first time and I’m told the fairways and greens are going to be a lot firmer now, which will be an interesting test to what we’ve faced over the last few years.
Q: How do you assess your 2018-18 PGA TOUR season?
Perez: I think it’s just been okay. I’ve been quite consistent with my play, but I didn’t have enough good finishes on the board, after the win at the CIMB Classic.
At some of the events, I got into contention after the second or third rounds, but for some reason, I didn’t quite stay up on the leaderboard and that was disappointing.
My caddie H (Michael Hartford) and I have discussed our play and tried to figure a few things out for the new season.
I’m confident I will start playing consistently well again, like how it was in 2017. Coming back to Malaysia will be a good starting point, for sure.
Q: The 2018 CIMB Classic (Oct 11-14) will be your first tournament as a father. How has fatherhood been so far and will it change your perspective about competing and life in general?
Perez: It’s been a great blessing for me and Ashley to welcome Piper into our lives. We’ve had a wonderful past few weeks with Piper in the house and I’m absolutely loving it.
I guess the hard part will be having to leave home to compete on the PGA TOUR.
Being a father certainly changes your perspective somewhat and the good thing now, I guess, is when I have an ordinary week on TOUR, it really won’t matter too much when I know I have another great reason to be happy with the new addition to our family.