January 26, 2009–There were no less than 11 PGA Tour players with strong ties to Las Vegas in the field at the PGA Tour's 50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer, but if you teed up a golf version of 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon', that list would grow to include at least one other golfer, eventual champ Pat Perez. After the round, Perez said Tommy Armour III (pictured), who grew up playing Las Vegas' golf courses, was like a father to him. And at one time, Perez' real father, Tony, helped develop a junior golf program at 'Las Vegas' golf course Boulder Creek Golf Club.
"You know T.A. (Tommy Armour III), he would say, 'Kid, you gotta relax,'" Perez told the media following his brilliant eagle on the 18th hole that clinched the win. "'Kid, you've gotta quit doing this and you gotta quit doing this.' But Tommy's right. A lot of things he's right on … TA's been like a dad to me ever since I got on TOUR. I played with him the last round of Q-School in 2001. He's taken me under his wing and he's introduced me to a thousand people, and he's been incredible. He gets a bad rap for drinking and partying and all this other stuff, but this guy puts in some time. The guy is 49 years old and he's making $1.5 million on the TOUR still. That's not a mistake. he works hard on his game. He's got a great work ethic and he's got a great mindset on the course. And you can learn a lot from a guy like that and I have … Tommy is a really calm, cool, collected guy, doesn't really get upset, doesn't do anything, but he works hard on his game and believes in himself. And those are good things to take with you and I've taken those with me and it's gone the right way so far."
Perez attended the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame ceremony in October of 2008 when Armour III was inducted, and knew he was ready for a win. And he recently started taking things a bit more seriously. "I got to a point in my career, seven years now, that I was just tired of being average," said Perez, who plays and practices out of the Madison Club, a course that is located just five minutes away from the PGA West course where the Hope is played. "I was tired of being nobody. I know that I can play and I want to play."
Armour III was part of a large contingent that celebrated with Perez on the 18th green that included PGA Tour players Jason Gore and Andrew Magee, and the Philadelphia Phillies' Pat Burrell. Also among them was Tony Perez, Pat's father, who was a key figure on the junior golf scene in the San Diego area where Pat grew up. For a time, Perez was a member of the group that built Boulder Creek Golf Club, a 27-hole public and resort Las Vegas golf facility that is actually located in Boulder City, a quaint non-gaming town that is located about 35 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. Perez helped start a junior golf program at the course, and then worked briefly with The First Tee of Southern Nevada. A sister course to Boulder Creek is Boulder City Golf Course, one of the oldest golf courses in the area.
Besides taking a cue from Armour III on the course, Perez has watched and learned from him about how to celebrate and enjoy life. Perez and his friends spent Sunday evening enjoying the long awaited moment as only a Armour III disciple could. "I was thinking about all the people that were out there for me," said Perez about his emotions. "And I still, it still doesn't feel like it actually happened. Once I get smashed tonight and wake up tomorrow and watch the highlights, then I'll probably realize it."
Perez also credited his recent marriage for helping him win. "My theory is still working one hundred percent," said Perez, a strong believer that good things happen to golfers when they get married or have children. "People either need to have children or get married, because they win right away. I got married the 13th, I won today. Paul Casey got married the day after me, he won last week. Gore had a child, he won. Sabbatini had a child, he won. It just happens."